BIO: Iain Strachan

From: Iain Strachan (
Date: Sun Aug 13 2000 - 21:49:05 EDT

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    Name: Iain Guy David Strachan
    Age: 44 (b. 10-March-1958).
    Marital status: Married, to Christine, with two children, Jessica
    (11) and Matthew (9).

    Vocation: Software Engineer. Providing Mathematical Solver codes
    for solution of large sets of sparse linear and non-linear equations,
    with application to the chemical and oil industry.

    Educational Background:

    BA (1980) Cambridge University - Natural Sciences, with Physics as
    primary subject.
    MPhil (1981) Cambridge University - Control Engineering + Operational Research.
    PhD (2002) Edinburgh University - Institute of Adaptive and Neural Computation.

    My PhD studies were part time, over a period of seven years, and
    carried out at the same time as having a full-time job. I've just
    successfully passed the Viva, and expect to graduate formally in the
    Autumn. I don't recommend doing a PhD part time unless you want a
    nerve-wracking slog!

    The thesis study was in probabilistic techniques for visualization of
    high-dimensional, time-dependent data. My interest in this kind of
    work arose from applications of Neural Networks and Genetic
    Algorithms that we used at work. (Though the techniques developed in
    the study were far removed from "biologically inspired" algorithms,
    and more to do with Maximum Likelihood probability density models).

    Vocational background:

    1981-2002: UK Atomic Energy Authority, which became privatized and
    turned into AEA Technology plc. I worked largely in computing, in a
    wide variety of areas: control, robotics, (real time control), space
    studies, advanced robotics studies, mathematical simulation software,
    Neural Networks, Genetic algorithms (though we couldn't find much
    practical use for these). Since 1998, I transferred to Hyprotech, a
    wholly owned subsidiary company of AEA Technology, providing process
    simulation software for the chemical and oil industries. In May this
    year, Hyprotech was divested by AEA Technology, and it is now part of
    the American company Aspentech.

    It is my research interest in Neural Networks, and the idea of
    spotting patterns in data (for example in one application, we tried
    to spot instances of organized crime in credit card fraud by looking
    for repeated spend patterns - very successfully, I might add), that
    led indirectly to my interest in Vernon Jenkins' biblical numerics,
    though that was via a subsidiary interest in looking for evidence of
    mathematical structure in music. Neither of these areas, however,
    are amenable to neural net/statistical pattern recognition analysis
    (as far as I can tell).

    Faith background:

    I suppose I could say I have always been a Christian believer. I
    remember being horrified at the age of 5 when a schoolfried told me
    that neither Santa Claus nor God existed. Actually, I guess I was
    more upset about the Santa Claus con, because at least you had
    tangible proof (i.e. presents) that Santa existed! But I'd always
    try and persuade (without much success) my atheistic friends to
    believe in God. I went so far as to write an essay for a friend of
    mine on the Arts side at school about the Big Bang, demonstrating (to
    my limited imagination) that the Big Bang "proved" the existence of
    God, because God had to be the cause of the Big Bang. I was rather
    disappointed that my friend didn't buy that one.

    But I guess the big change came in my life at the age of 16, when I
    made a personal commitment. I'd attended a "house party" of the
    Crusaders organization (rather reluctantly - I only agreed to go
    because I thought they'd got their eyes on me as not being "keen"
    enough!). It was there that I realised that a tremendous love bound
    all the people together; a "something" that was definitely greater
    than the sum of their parts. The people who ran the house party
    definitely knew what they were doing, and emphasized the need to ask
    Jesus into your life as your personal Saviour. I realised that what
    I had up till then was merely an intellectual commitment, and not a
    heartfelt one. The difference was felt immediately as I went home;
    everything seemed very flat, and I realised that I had to do exactly
    what they'd said; and I asked the Lord into my life quietly in the
    privacy of my own bedroom.

    I attend an Evangelical Church of England, that has moderate
    charismatic tendencies. I'm very open to the idea that the gifts of
    the spirit are real, but also aware that it can get divisive.
    Certain people in our church got involved in the Toronto thing, and I
    have to say I was a little worried at the sight of people shaking
    uncontrollably - it didn't seem to me that this kind of thing was
    from God, but I guess one should keep an open mind about these
    things. I'd be interested to hear what other people in the group
    feel about these issues.

    Other interests.

    Big "private passion" is classical music, especially the composer
    Shostakovich, about whom I've written several articles, some of which
    have received a measure of academic acceptance. Belonging to a
    listserv devoted to the music of Shostakovich and other Russian
    composers has led to many delightful friendships, and some
    opportunities to share my faith as well.

    Other interests involve creative writing (poetry and drama - for
    outreach services in the church), and also amateur dramatics (acting
    and directing).

    I've very much enjoyed reading other peoples' biographies and
    testimonies, and hope the above provides a reasonable snapshot of me.

    Iain Strachan.

    --- is a free email
    account I use for posting to public forums.
    To contact me personally, please write to:

    iain.g.d.strachan AT ntlworld DOT com

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