His early research was in the application of mathematical ideas to traditional areas of physical science; however, he soon realised that the delicate balance between theory and practice in these disciplines was capable of far-reaching generalisation, as science - and especially industry - turned increasingly to the computer with its inherent demand for mathematical modelling. This vision enabled him to make a significant contribution to British mathematics in 1967 by initiating the so-called "Study Groups with Industry" which continue all over the world to this day.
Alan Tayler was a scholar at King's College School, Wimbledon, and during National Service he joined REME and was involved in developments in radar and electronics in immediate post-war Britain. He then went up to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he took a double First in Mathematics and was awarded a DPhil in mathematical aspects of aerodynamics under the supervision of Professor George Temple.
In 1959, Tayler was appointed to a tutorial fellowship at the St Catherine's Society, and he was a member of the small group of tutors around Alan (now Lord) Bullock who were involved in the transformation of the society in 1962 into the fully fledged St Catherine's College. The society moved to a striking building designed by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, the setting for a college in which Tayler and his colleagues sought to introduce traditional Oxford educational values into a new environment, placing a particular emphasis on mathematics and science.
Tayler's commitment to St Catherine's College was total. He held the main college offices and in the late 1980s conceived the idea of founding the St Catherine's College Kobe Institute, an Anglo-Japanese foundation for fostering academic exchanges between Britain and Japan. In the final week of his life he took a keen interest in the situation of the institute following the devastating earthquake in Kobe.
In 1982 Tayler was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. In 1984 he helped to form the European Consortium for Mathematics and Industry and in 1989 he became its President. He was appointed CBE in 1993 for his services to applied science and industry.
Alan Tayler's great love outside his mathematical work was rugby and for 30 years he played a vital role in the Oxford University Rugby Club, becoming its President. He was very pleased to be able to attend the Varsity Match before Christmas.
Plant of Highfield
Alan Breach Tayler, mathematician: born Mitcham, Surrey 5 September 1931; Fellow, St Catherine's College, Oxford 1959-95; Director, Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics 1989-94; CBE 1993; married 1955 June Earp (three daughters, and one daughter deceased); died Ducklington, Oxfordshire 29 January 1995.