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definition - David_Crighton

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David Crighton

David George Crighton
Born (1942-11-15)15 November 1942
Llandudno, Wales
Died 12 April 2000(2000-04-12) (aged 57)
Cambridge, UK
Nationality British
Institutions Woolwich Polytechnic
Imperial College London
University of Leeds
University of Cambridge
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge
Doctoral advisor John Ffowcs Williams
Doctoral students Christina Bloor
Andrew Cates
Richard Griffiths
Paul Hammerton
Robert Hunt
Stefan Llewellyn Smith
Jonathan Nimmo
Nigel Peake
Pablo Rendon-Garrido
Sjoerd Rienstra
Vivek Saxena
Markku Vartiainen[1]
Known for Fluid mechanics
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society

David George Crighton FRS[2] (15 November 1942, Llandudno, Wales - 12 April 2000, Cambridge) was a British mathematician and physicist.[3][4][5][6][7]



Crighton was born in Llandudno. His mother, Violet Grace Garrison, had been sent because of the bombing of London during World War II. He didn't become interested in mathematics until his last two years at Watford Grammar School for Boys. He entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1961 and started lecturing at Woolwich Polytechnic (today University of Greenwich) in 1964, having completed only his bachelor's degree.

A few years later he met John Ffowcs Williams and started to work for him at Imperial College London, while simultaneously studying for his doctorate (awarded in 1969) at the same place. In 1974, he was appointed as a Research Fellow in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. However, he never took up this post, but instead accepted the chair in Applied Mathematics at the University of Leeds, which he held until 1986. He then returned to Cambridge as professor of Applied Mathematics in succession to George Batchelor. Later he became a well-loved Master of Jesus College (1997–2000), and was head of the Applied Mathematics department (DAMTP), where Stephen Hawking worked, in Cambridge between 1991 and 2000, where he was held in huge regard by the faculty and students.

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society instituted the David Crighton Medal in 2002 in Crighton's honour. The Award is made triennially by the Councils of the Institute and the Society, with the first award in 2003. The silver gilt medal is awarded to a mathematician who is normally resident in the mathematical community represented by the two organisations for services both to mathematics and to the mathematical community.

Away from his mathematical work, Crighton was a devotee of the music of Richard Wagner, as well as music for the piano.


In his first paper, Crighton studied the sound wave associated with turbulent flow over a discontinuous surface formed by two semi-infinite flexible planes.

Over the years he worked broadly in the fields of acoustics, equation theory and quasi-diabatic systems including solitons. This included on the generalised Burgers' equation and inverse scattering theory.


David Crighton in the space of around a year dramatically lost first his hair colour and then all his hair, going from a full head of curly brown hair to completely bald, via wispy white. This was apparently linked to a shock reaction after being mugged when visiting Munich although[citation needed] in his later years it was often wrongly assumed to be the result of chemotherapy for the liver tumour which eventually was his demise[citation needed]. two photos


Academic offices
Preceded by
Colin Renfrew
Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
1997 - 2000
Succeeded by
Robert Mair


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