Philip Sargent Home Page

Photo of Philip

Please Please do not bookmark this page - it may move..
Instead, please manually create a bookmark to this Persistent URL:


Personal History

On October 31st, 2012, I started a new job as a civil servant in the Chief Scientist's group of engineers in the Dept. for Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, London. I work mostly on "the evidence base for the heat programme" and also take an interest in the many models used at DECC.

In 2003, I began to take a more serious interest in energy policy and creating a community in Cambridge of people working in energy-related research. This led to getting a grant to found the Cambridge Energy Forum in 2005. Since then, I and three colleagues have put on about two dozen events in Cambridge, bringing together policy and technology researchers, entrepreneurs and funders.

For nearly two decades, I followed a career as an academic physical metallurgist, and I have returned to this field after nearly a decade working in commercial software development. Since September 2001, I have been creating a new superconductors company Diboride Conductors Ltd. in Cambridge. The most attractive product is a fault current limiter, a component of the "electricity smart grid", which we have been developing with Rolls Royce plc.

I am still helping to run Klebos Ltd, an Internet services company in Cambridge, specialising in email and intranet/extranet technologies.

On June 1st 2000, I joined the Cambridge offices of Metaweb Ltd., a struggling Internet company, as CEO; resigning from Laser-Scan a couple of weeks before they were bought by Yeoman Ltd. In retrospect, this was just past the peak of the boom, and the worst possible time to make such a move: Metaweb failed, and Klebos was created to continue to support customers.

I came back to the UK in December 1999 after living in Italy for a year, seconded by  Laser Scan Ltd. to help  the  European Commission Joint Research Centre at Ispra. I was working on feature identity and relationships with the Open GIS Consortium. I also worked on internet architectures for geographic information. I joined Laser-Scan at the Cambridge Science Park (UK) on July 1st, 1997.

Before coming to Laser-Scan, I had been running the software development team in Quillion Systems Ltd  since 1993 - when Quillion was only 6 people. My last project there was establishing their credibility for data storage with the North Sea oil industry which was very successful.

Earlier History

Between 1989 and 1993 I was a UK Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) Advanced Research Fellow researching engineering design information and use at Carnegie-Mellon and Cambridge Universities. Before that I worked at another small Cambridge start-up company Analysys Ltd. 1987-1988 where I wrote telecoms strategy modelling software (the first 3 iterations of the STEM decision support tool). Before that, I had a series of post-doc. research posts, mostly at the Engineering Dept. here apart from a Royal Society research fellowship at the Technion, Haifa. I did my PhD in materials science (surface mechanical plasticity in ceramics) in 1979.

Go to top.

Articles, Reports and Seminars

If these links don't work, it may be because you are reading this home page on a partial-mirror site. Go to my main home page and try again from there.

I now use a Wordpress blog for informal articles, and it includes articles not listed below on this page. So do go to to see what I have been writing since 2003.

All papers  Copyright 1988-2003 Philip Sargent unless otherwise noted. Items marked **NEW** are recently posted here, not necessarily recently written.

These are the highlights, I also have a full list of all my publications.

Software Design and Management

Agent-Based Computation
An article I wrote for The Guardian in 1992. In it I mentioned the development method used by Linux and Netscape several years later: "What is needed is a way for many individuals to collaborate by writing software components [...] The overhead of organising a collaboration rises as the square of the number of participants. So above a certain number of people involved, the non-communicating collaboration is more efficient. [...] Populations of people and companies which prefer to collaborate indirectly, only through the medium of the software they are developing,.. "

Software project plan
An example, taken from Steve McConnell's book, of a website used for software management for a GIS research application.

Odd Thoughts

Thinking up new ideas 
A change in the course of human history through creativity ?

Aligned-linear nuclear fusion
A safe, cool technology ?

The Kingdom of England and Wales
What shall we call ourselves when Scotland goes ? And what flag shall we use ?

Implants to deliver programmable medicines
Proteins, RNA fragments, polysaccharides ?

Song of the Ancient Physicists (Scientia) 
Proteins, RNA fragments, polysaccharides ?

Spatial Information Theory

A short note on what will probably happen and where it would fit in the market.

Object Oriented GIS
David Arctur's tutorial presentation on object oriented GIS which I edited and revised.

Object-Oriented GIS meets Client-Server Computing
A presentation on the architectural decisions which sit beneath GISs designed for collaborative group working. It begins with a review of current relational-database approaches to client-server GIS and then go on to contrast that with other architectures. Where highly-specific detail is required to illustrate a point, it uses the example of Laser-Scan's "Gothic" architecture.

SQL Middleware for GIS
Recently posted, but out-of-date market position review of Spatial Cartridge, SDE etc.

OGC Feature Identity & Relationships Working Group
I was the chairman and I contributed many research documents to this topic, which eventually became part of the specification.

Spatio-Temporal GIS
A seminar given at JRC Ispra on 25th May 1998 summarising developments in spatio-temporal geographic informaiton systems. This is an on-line version but with full speakers notes. (Email me if you want a copy of the original PowerPoint97 file.)

Feature Identities, Descriptors and Handles
September 1998.  Submitted to Interop'99  The 2nd International Conference on Interoperating Geographic Information Systems, Zurich, March 10-12, 1999. Also a zipped Postscript (68k), and here PDF: feature-ids4.pdf (166k). copy. (This is not the later version which was published in the conference proceedings.)

Feature ID Notes April 1998
on the need for feature-object identifiers.

FeatureRelationships: Implications (36k)
January 1998 Discussion paper to the Open GIS Consortium technical committees.

Designing an Evolving Federated Geographic Data Repository (zipped PostScript 62kB)
How some organisations cannot manage such an project. Also (152K PDF)

Software project plan
An example, taken from Steve McConnell's book, of a website used for software management for a GIS research application.

PDM: Product Data Management

The Future of the PDM Market
More than a year old, but posted here recently. A review of the established markets that PDM works with and some forecasts about which companies will end up on top.

PDM and MRP Interoperability
More than a year old, but posted here recently. Why "an interface" between a PDM system and an MRP system is not something you can just buy.

Design Theory

Creative design: a computational view of the generation of new design spaces (105kB)
This paper examines creative design from the point of view that an essence of design is the accommodation of incommensurate world-views. Each world-view can be thought of as a set of design spaces and one type of creative action corresponds to creating new design spaces.

Science or Non-science ? A Non-Scientific Theory of Design (43kB)
This paper looks at different types of "designerly-thinking" and characterises design as an activity that intrinsically requires the rationalisation of incommeasurate viewpoints.

Satisfactory Design Theory (11kB)
A note which discusses Simon's satisficing and bounded rationality ideas with respect to proposed theories of design.

Cults of Design Science (7kB)
A brief note which discusses different community's views of "design science"..

Shared Memory in Design: A Unifying Theme for Research and Practice (130+17kB)
A new unifying theme for design theory. Using the concept of shared memory, we both account for past observations of design in practice and recommend actions to improve design in the future. We examine several practical implications for design teams.

Manufacturing Infrastructure

Inherently Flexible Cell Communications (129kB)
Report CUED/E-MANUF./TR.2 June 1993. Also published as Inherently Flexible Cell Communications: a review, Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems, 6 (4) 244-259, Nov. 1993

Deformation Mechanism Maps

During the 1980s, in a series of post-doc research jobs with Mike Ashby, I updated and rewrote the deformation mechanism map software originally written by Mike and reworked by Harold Frost in Fortran. The latest copy of the code (in Pascal) is now downloadable in PC-executable form from these pages. Mike and Harold's book is now out of print, but the technique is firmly embedded in undergraduate courses world-wide in materials science and geology.

Materials Information and Databases

A Tabular Materials Data Interchange Format (130kB)
The Cambridge Tabular Data Interchange Format: original full report and appendices. Also published in CODATA Bulletin 24 (1) (1992) 47-53 (Hemisphere Press).
(Presented at 12th Int. CODATA Conf., Columbus 15 July 1990) and J. Chemical Information and Computer Sciences 31 (1991) 297-300 American Chemical Soc., publishers.

Materials Information for CAD/CAM
Butterworth-Heinemann Publ., August 1991, 172 pages, ISBN 0-7506-0277-5.
"This book is intended for anyone who is planning the construction, use or management of any kind of engineering materials property information system. The book addresses the problem of designing databases, decision support aids, expert systems and communication systems that can be integrated with manual and software-supported tasks in design and manufacture, in CADand CAM. The tasks covered are those of materials selection, materials modelling and materials process simulation: anything that involves access to materials identification or property information."

Now out of print, the full content is published here with a new preface. The entire book can be downloaded as a zipfile (228kB). *Corrected* references (September 1999).

Estimating the Mechanical Properties of Propane Hydrate (3rd February 1989)
I did this for engineers investigating the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster. The accident was thought to be caused by a build-up of solid hydrocarbon hydrate in a pump, and as far as I know, I produced the only estimate of the strength of this material. It is a variety of ice that is stable up to 17oC (but not at atmospheric pressure).

The COLLYEAR Report - Some personal comments (5th May 1985)
The Collyear report recommended that the UK spend 120m to encourage NIMPs: New and Improved Materials and Processes. In many areas, I felt that it missed the point. *New* posting.

Modelling Materials Processing

Conference paper (Japan) (53kB)
This is a summary of some of the main results of the study (see below) with no data, diagrams discussion or case-studies. It does not cover the contributions we made as to how modelling activities - including human activities - for materials processing can be classified by using the boundary conditions of the PDFs being modelled.

Materials Process Modelling: A state of the art review and proposals for change: New needs in training, data and software technology (385kB)
This is the full report of a study performed in 1992-3 (with ACME funding) by myself, Hugh Shercliff and Bob Wood. Now in XHTML standard format.

Early Papers

What does Jonathan Miller know about SF?
My first publication, in The Radio Times in 1971.

Go to top.


You can send e-mail to me at which where I am collecting my email from these days. [This email address on this webpage is obfuscated to prevent simple-minded spambots getting it.]

This website is registered with two Persistent URL services: For how this works, see the Persistent URL (PURL) Home Page.

top | local site content | Sargent Family Home Pages

We believe that the permanent, archival record of scientific research and ideas should neither 
be owned nor controlled by publishers, but should belong to the public, and should be made freely available Best viewed with any browser Valid XHTML 1.0!Valid CSS1! View Philip Sargent's profile on LinkedIn

Powered By ...?

Last changed: