H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins

Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins
Born April 11, 1923(1923-04-11)
Died March 27, 2004(2004-03-27) (aged 80)
Institutions University of Chicago, University of Manchester, King's College London, University of Cambridge
Alma mater University of Oxford
Doctoral advisor Charles Coulson
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society

Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins FRS[1] was both a theoretical chemist and a cognitive scientist. He was born on April 11, 1923 in Kent, England and died on March 27, 2004.

He was educated at The Pilgrims' School, Winchester, and Winchester College. In 1941, he won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. He read chemistry, but also took Part I of a degree in Music. He was a Balliol organ scholar.

As an undergraduate he proposed the correct structure of the chemical compound diborane (B2H6), which was then unknown because it turned out to be different from structures in contemporary chemical valence theory. This was published with his tutor, R. P. Bell.[2]

He completed a DPhil at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Charles Coulson. This was followed by post-doctoral work at the University of Chicago and the University of Manchester.

In 1952, he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's College, London, and in 1954 became John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at Cambridge,[3] and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College.

He became interested in the brain and the new field of artificial intelligence. As a consequence, in 1967, he made a major change in his career by moving to the University of Edinburgh to co-found the Department of Machine intelligence and perception, with Richard Gregory and Donald Michie.

He later moved to the experimental psychology department at Sussex University, Brighton, England. In 1981 he introduced the essential matrix to the computer vision community in a paper which also included the eight-point algorithm for the estimation of this matrix. He retired in 1988. At the time of his death, in 2004, he was Professor Emeritus at the University of Sussex. In 2005 the "Longuet-Higgins Prize for Fundamental Contributions in Computer Vision that Have Withstood the Test of Time" was created in his honor. The prize is awarded every year at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference for up to two distinguished papers published at that same conference ten years earlier.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.

His work on developing computational models of music understanding was recognized in the nineties by the award of an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Sheffield University.

An example of Longuet-Higgins's writings, introducing the field of music cognition:[4]

'You're browsing, let us imagine, in a music shop, and come across a box of faded pianola rolls. One of them bears an illegible title, and you unroll the first foot or two, to see if you can recognize the work from the pattern of holes in the paper. Are there four beats in the bar, or only three? Does the piece begin on the tonic, or some other note? Eventually you decide that the only way of finding out is to buy the roll, take it home, and play it on the pianola. Within seconds your ears have told you what your eyes were quite unable to make out—that you are now the proud possessor of a piano arrangement of "Colonel Bogey"'.[5]


  1. ^ Gregory, R. L.; Murrell, J. N. (2006). "Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins. 11 April 1923 -- 27 March 2004: Elected FRS 1958". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 52: 149. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2006.0012.  edit
  2. ^ Longuet-Higgins, H. C.; Bell, R. P. (1943). "64. The structure of the boron hydrides". Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed): 250. doi:10.1039/JR9430000250.  edit
  3. ^ Venn Cambridge University database
  4. ^ Longuet-Higgins, H. C.; Webber, B.; Cameron, W.; Bundy, A.; Hudson, R.; Hudson, L.; Ziman, J.; Sloman, A. et al. (1994). "Artificial Intelligence and Musical Cognition [and Dicussion]". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 349 (1689): 103. doi:10.1098/rsta.1994.0116.  edit
  5. ^ Longuet-Higgins, H. C. (1979). "Review Lecture: The Perception of Music". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 205 (1160): 307. doi:10.1098/rspb.1979.0067.  edit
  • Longuet-Higgins, H. C. (1981). "A computer algorithm for reconstructing a scene from two projections". Nature 293 (5828): 133. doi:10.1038/293133a0.  edit

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