H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins

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H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins
Born (1923-04-11)11 April 1923
Lenham, Kent, England
Died 27 March 2004(2004-03-27) (aged 80)
Institutions King's College London
University of Chicago
University of Manchester
University of Cambridge
Alma mater University of Oxford
Thesis Some problems in theoretical chemistry by the method of molecular orbitals (1947)
Doctoral advisor Charles Coulson
Doctoral students Peter Higgs[1]
Geoffrey Hinton
Mark Steedman
Mark Child
Anthony Stone
David Willshaw, Mark Agnostini, David Hinton, John Murrell, Lionel Salem,[2] Graeme Ritchie,[3] Philip Bunker[4]
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society
Naylor Prize and Lectureship (1981)

Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins FRS[5] (April 11, 1923– March 27, 2004) was both a theoretical chemist and a cognitive scientist. He was the older brother of Michael S. Longuet-Higgins.


Longuet-Higgins was born on 11 April 1923 in Lenham, Kent, England.

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.[6] 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,[7] 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.

Longuet-Higgins died on 27 March 2004, aged 80.

Academic works

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:[8]

Longuet-Higgins et al (1994):[9]

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".

Selected works

  • Longuet-Higgins, H. C. (1981). "A computer algorithm for reconstructing a scene from two projections". Nature. 293 (5828): 133. doi:10.1038/293133a0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Honors and awards

  • 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.


His younger brother is Michael S. Longuet-Higgins.


  1. Peter Higgs Website webpage at University of Edinburgh
  2. "Chemistry Tree - Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins Details".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Mathematics Genealogy Project - Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "(Hugh) Christopher Longuet-Higgins - Genealogy". Theoretical Chemistry Genealogy Project.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Longuet-Higgins, H. C.; Bell, R. P. (1943). "64. The Structure of the Boron Hydrides". Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed). 1943: 250–255. doi:10.1039/JR9430000250.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Venn Cambridge University database
  8. Longuet-Higgins, H. C.; Webber, B.; Cameron, W.; Bundy, A.; Hudson, R.; Hudson, L.; Ziman, J.; Sloman, A.; Sharples, M.; Dennett, D. (1994). "Artificial Intelligence and Musical Cognition [and Discussion]". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 349 (1689): 103. Bibcode:1994RSPTA.349..103L. doi:10.1098/rsta.1994.0116.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links