John Argyris

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John Argyris
Born(1913-08-19)19 August 1913
Volos, Greece
Died2 April 2004(2004-04-02) (aged 90)
Stuttgart, Germany
Alma mater
Known forFinite element method
Scientific career

Johann Hadji Argyris FRS[1] (Greek: Ιωάννης Χατζι Αργύρης; 19 August 1913 – 2 April 2004) was a Greek pioneer of computer applications in science and engineering,[2] among the creators of the finite element method (FEM), and lately Professor at the University of Stuttgart and Director of the Institute for Statics and Dynamics of Aerospace Structures.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]


He was born in Volos, Greece but the family moved to Athens where he was educated in the Classical Gymnasium.

He studied civil engineering for four years in the National Technical University of Athens and then in the Technical University Munich, receiving his Engineering Diploma in 1936.

Following his escape from Nazi Germany he completed his Doctorate at ETH Zurich in 1942.[10]


His first job was at the Gollnow company in Stettin, where he was involved among other things in high radio transmitter masts. In 1943, he joined the research department of the Royal Aeronautical Society in England. Starting from 1949 he was lecturer in aeronautical engineering at the Imperial College London of the University of London, where he assumed a chair in 1955.

In 1959, Argyris was appointed a professor at the Technical University of Stuttgart (today University of Stuttgart) and director of the Institute for Statics and Dynamics of Aerospace Structures. He created the Aeronautical and Astronautical Campus of the University of Stuttgart as focal point for applications of digital computers and electronics.

Argyris was involved in and developed to a large extent the Finite Element Method along with Ray William Clough and Olgierd Zienkiewicz after an early mathematical pre-working of Richard Courant.

Awards and honours[edit]

Argyris was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society Silver Medal in 1971.[11]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in March 1986.[1] His nomination reads:

Professor Argyris commenced his scientific career at Imperial College in 1949 and subsequently accepted in 1959 a joint appointment as Professor at Imperial College and Professor and Director of the Institute of Astronautical Structures at Stuttgart. Professor Argyris pioneered in the United Kingdom and Europe computer mechanics and established in the early 1950s the matrix structural theory introducing the first finite elements concepts including effects of material and geometrical nonlinearities. This work initiated an explosive development of computational mechanics which is still an expanding area. In this field he continued without interruption as one of the leading figures and published a prodigious number of papers (over 300) ranging in applications from structural problems through fluid mechanics, lubrication, celestial mechanics. The computer system ASKA developed under his direction was the model for many subsequent industrial developments. Professor Argyris has been honoured abroad by a great number of distinctions including the Theodore von Karman Medal, Timoshenko Medal [sic] (ASME), I. B. Laskowitz Gold Medal in Astronautics (N.Y. Acad. Of Sc.) and Copernicus Medal (Polish Acad. Of Sc.).[12]

Personal life[edit]

When World War II started Argyris was in Berlin at The Technical University. He was arrested and interned accused of passing research secrets to the Allies. However he was saved from execution by Admiral Canaris (also of Greek descent) who arranged his escape. After swimming the Rhine during an air-raid, he made his way to Switzerland. Here he entered ETH Zurich to complete his Doctorate.[13]

Argyris died in Stuttgart and is buried in the Sankt Jörgens Cemetery in the city of Varberg, Sweden.

His uncle, Constantin Carathéodory, was a Greek mathematician of the Modern Era.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Spalding, D. B. (2014). "John Hadji Argyris 19 August 1913 -- 2 April 2004". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 60: 23–37. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2013.0003. S2CID 70761777.
  2. ^ Hughes TJR, Oden JT, and Papadrakakis M (2011) John H Argyris, Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, 15, 24–31.
  3. ^ Doltsinis, I. (2004). "Obituary for John Argyris". Communications in Numerical Methods in Engineering. 20 (9): 665–669. doi:10.1002/cnm.709.
  4. ^ Doltsinis, I. (2004). "Obituary". International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering. 60 (10): 1633–1637. Bibcode:2004IJNME..60.1633D. doi:10.1002/nme.1131.
  5. ^ John Argyris's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  6. ^ Argyris, J. (1982). "An excursion into large rotations". Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering. 32 (1–3): 85–155. Bibcode:1982CMAME..32...85A. doi:10.1016/0045-7825(82)90069-X.
  7. ^ Argyris, J.; Fuentes, A.; Litvin, F. L. (2002). "Computerized integrated approach for design and stress analysis of spiral bevel gears". Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering. 191 (11–12): 1057. Bibcode:2002CMAME.191.1057A. doi:10.1016/S0045-7825(01)00316-4.
  8. ^ Argyris, J. H.; Balmer, H.; Doltsinis, J. S.; Dunne, P. C.; Haase, M.; Kleiber, M.; Malejannakis, G. A.; Mlejnek, H. -P.; Müller, M.; Scharpf, D. W. (1979). "Finite element method – the natural approach". Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering. 17–18: 1–106. Bibcode:1979CMAME..17....1A. doi:10.1016/0045-7825(79)90083-5.
  9. ^ Argyris, J.; Tenek, L.; Olofsson, L. (1997). "TRIC: A simple but sophisticated 3-node triangular element based on 6 rigid-body and 12 straining modes for fast computational simulations of arbitrary isotropic and laminated composite shells". Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering. 145 (1–2): 11–85. Bibcode:1997CMAME.145...11A. doi:10.1016/S0045-7825(96)01233-9.
  10. ^ "Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 2004, Vol. 193, pp. 3763–3766"
  11. ^ Medallist list published here.
  12. ^ "EC/1986/02: Argyris, John". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 9 July 2019.
  13. ^ "John H. Argyris 1913-2004 ." National Academy of Engineering. 2011. Memorial Tributes: Volume 15. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13160"
  14. ^ "John H. Argyris". Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2010.