Dr Martin Borthwick

Dr Martin Borthwick

Visiting Researcher

School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (Faculty of Science and Engineering)




BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering (First Class), Polytechnic South West, 1990
Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Plymouth, 1994
PhD Engineering Hydrology, University of Plymouth, 2010

Professional membership


Member of the British Hydrological Society

Roles on external bodies

Member of the ICE SW Regional Committee (past Chairman 2012-14)
Member of the Plymouth City Club of the ICE (past Chair)



Teaching interests

Engineering hydrology

River Engineering


Computational Modelling



Research interests

I am interested in how complex systems can be modelled using novel mathematical and computer tools based on memory and artificial intelligence. In particular I have been developing computational rainfall-streamflow models using a fractional-order systems approach to represent the mixing effect of "old" and "new" water observed in streamflow chemistry. I have derived a generalised unit hydrograph (UH) theory to represent the mixing of water within the surface/subsurface storage component of the river catchment which overcomes the baseflow separation issue of the widely-used classical UH approach. Dooge’s 1959 classical general theory of the Instantaneous UH is found to be a special case of the new theory, and Chow and Kulandaiswamy’s 1971 general storage equation fits within it too. The new theory also corrects Nash’s 1960 interpretation of a cascade of a non-integer number of linear reservoirs.
I am interested in the application of evolutionary algorithms (e.g. genetic algorithms and genetic programming) for the identification and calibration of improved rainfall-streamflow models, including the use of slope-based fitness functions to measure the shape of streamflow time series.   These functions have been successfully applied to interactive rainfall-runoff model calibration using the genetic algorithm-based model visualisation toolkit developed by Ian Packham (Lightwave Technologies Ltd, Ireland).

I am also interested in modelling the effects of agricultural land-use changes on river flows (with Dr Andrew Williams, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth).

Grants & contracts

Developing professional skills though short term engineering placements - Royal Academy of Engineering, May 2011-March 2012, £10k



Conferences organised

Co-organiser for Intelligent Computing in Engineering (ICE08), 15th International Workshop, European Group for Intelligent Computing in Engineering, University of Plymouth, 2-4 July 2008.