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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 July 2007, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Academic pair killed in car crash
Dame Anne McLaren at the Natural History Museum in London, with DNA samples from endangered species stored in a 'frozen ark".
Dame Anne McLaren was the first female officer of the Royal Society
Two leading academics have been killed in a car crash on the M11.

Professor Donald Michie, 84, and his ex-wife, Dame Anne McLaren, 80, were in a car which left the motorway as they travelled from Cambridge to London.

Prof Michie was a researcher in artificial intelligence who worked as part of the British code-breaking group at Bletchley Park during World War II.

Dr McLaren was a leading geneticist who became the first female officer of the Royal Society.

War work

She was also a fellow of King's College and Christ College, Cambridge, and a member of the Warnock Commission that advised on ethical issues on the use of genetics.

Prof Michie had helped solve Tunny, a German teleprinter cipher during the war and was director of the University of Edinburgh's Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception.

Their son, Jonathan Michie, said: "This is a tragic event especially since Donald was preparing a major lecture to be delivered at the University of Edinburgh on the history of machine intelligence.

"The one consolation in the case of Anne is that her 80th birthday this year had been widely celebrated and honoured by both her Cambridge institute and both her Cambridge Colleges."

The couple leave three children. Prof Michie also leaves one son from a previous marriage.

Professor Michael Fourman, head of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh paid tribute to Prof Michie.

"Donald was one of the early leading proponents of artificial intelligence and robotics and was the founder of both the experimental programming unit and the department of machine intelligence at Edinburgh in the 1960s."

He said many of his colleagues had recently been at a talk by Prof Michie at the Edinburgh computer history reunion and were looking forward to future visits.

"He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this time," Prof Fourman added.


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