David W. Allan

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David Wayne Allan
David W. Allan, cropped.jpg
Allan in August 2014
Born (1936-09-25) September 25, 1936 (age 84)
NationalityUnited States
Known forAllan variance
Scientific career
InstitutionsNational Institute of Standards and Technology

David Wayne Allan (born September 25, 1936) is an American atomic clock physicist and author of the Allan variance, also known as the two-sample variance, a measure of frequency stability in clocks, oscillators and other applications.[2] He worked for the National Bureau of Standards in Colorado.[4]

Allan was born in Mapleton, Utah, on September 25, 1936. As a teenager, he was a white water rafting guide on the Green River in eastern Utah.[5] He studied physics at the Brigham Young University (B.S. 1960) and at the University of Colorado (M.S. 1965).[6] From 1960 he was a physicist in the Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (then the National Bureau of Standards) in Boulder, and from 1979 was 1988 chief of the Time and Frequency Coordination Group.[6] He retired in 1992 and lives in Fountain Green, Utah.[6] After retiring he set up a private company called Time Interval Metrology Enterprise.

Allan was a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme in New Delhi in 1981, and a guest scientist in the People's Republic of China in 1982.[6]

He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[4] He has served two missions for the church. He was the first bishop of the Boulder 2nd ward in Boulder, Colorado and was president of the Boulder Colorado Stake for ten years. He also served for three years as a counselor in the Colorado Denver Mission presidency.[7] Upon moving to Fountain Green, Utah he served for eleven years as an institute teacher in the church.

He married Edna Love Ramsay in the Salt Lake Temple in 1959.[6]


Allan received the Silver Medal of the Department of Commerce in 1968, and one of the IR-100 awards of Industrial Research magazine in 1976.[6] He received the Rabi Award of the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society in 1984.[1] In 1999 he was named an honorary fellow of the Institute of Navigation.[4] In 2018 he received the Joseph F. Keithley Award in Instrumentation and Measurement of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.[3]


  1. ^ a b IEEE UFFC - Frequency Control - Awards - Rabi Award. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Archived 5 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "2011 - David Allan". International Timing & Sync Forum. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b IEEE Joseph F. Keithley Award in Instrumentation and Measurement Recipients. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Accessed October 2020
  4. ^ a b c "Portraits - Ensign Jan. 2000 - ensign". Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  5. ^ physics oral history project article on Allan
  6. ^ a b c d e f Katherine H. Nemeh (editor) (2014). American Men & Women of Science: A Biographical Directory of Today’s Leaders in Physical, Biological and Related Sciences, 32nd edition, volume 1. Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781414496498. (subscription required).
  7. ^ Physicas Oral History Article on Allan