Prof. Andrew Lacey FRSE



School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences; Mathematics

Phone: +44 (0)131 451 3228
  • CMT07
  • School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences; Mathematics
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Edinburgh
  • EH14 4AS
  • United Kingdom
Andrew Lacey

Research profile

Roles and responsibilities
    • Lecturer for 2nd-year course Mathematics for Engineers and Scientists 4, F18XD2
    • Departmental representative on the scientific committee of the Industrial Mathematics Knowledge Transfer Network.



I research into differential equations, mostly PDEs, and their applications. Much of my work concerns diffusion-type equations  and I am particularly interested in 

  • blow-up, as can model explosions or ignition,
  • free-boundary problems, such as phase-change models, and 
  • models with non-local terms  

I am also interested in mathematical modelling of industrial,  societal, and other problems, from bread baking and welding to  homelessness and housing allocation. Many of these research areas  originate through interaction with the Industrial Mathematics KTN  and particularly the Study Groups with Industry.

Selected publications
  • N.I.Kavallaris, A.A.Lacey, C.V.Nikolopoulos & D.E.Tzanetis (2011),    A Hyperbolic Non-Local Problem Modelling  MEMS Technology,    Rocky Mountain Jl. Maths., in press. 
  • D.R.Jefferson, A.A.Lacey & P.A.Sadd (2007), Crust Density in    Bread Baking: Mathematical Modelling and Numerical Solutions,    Appl. Math. Mod., {\bf 31}, 209-225. 
  • D.A.Fidler and A.A.Lacey (2012), Dynamics of Vertical Fire Spread, IMA J. Appl. Maths., in press.
  • J.G.Byatt-Smith, A.A.Lacey, D.F.Parker, D.Simpson, W.R.Smith    & J.A.D.Wattis (2003) Mathematical modelling of homeless    populations, Math. Scientist, {\bf 28}, 1-12. 
  • N.I.Kavallaris, A.A.Lacey, C.V. Nikolopoulos and D.E.Tzanetis (2011), A Hyperbolic Non-Local Problem Modelling MEMS Technology, Rocky Mountain Jl. Maths., 41, 505-534.

I received my D.Phil. in mathematics at Oxford in 1979, then  held post-doctoral fellowships, in both Oxford and Wellington.  My work in this period concerned: 

  • Free-boundary problems, including both freezing/melting and the famous Hele-Shaw problem. 
  • Ignition, using both ODE and parabolic-equation models. 
  • A high-order parabolic model for thin-film flow.  

I was appointed lecturer at Heriot-Watt in 1982,  reader in 1987, professor in 1996, and elected fellow  of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1990. Here I have  continued my earlier research, proving key results on  blow-up for parabolic equations, and on free-boundary motion.  

Largely through participation in Study Groups with Industry,  I have also studied diverse practical problems: 

  • Industrial, including calorimetry, bread crusts and green roofs (collaborating companies have been small, SMEs, and large, such as RHM). 
  • Scientific, such as fire spread. 
  • Social, such as homelessness levels.
Further information

I am always interested to hear from prospective Ph.D. candidates,  particularly, at present, anyone interested in fire spread. I'm also  always keen to apply maths to tackle problems arising anywhere from  commercial companies to charities.