John Ffowcs Williams

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John Ffowcs Williams
Born Shôn Eirwen Ffowcs Williams
(1935-05-25) 25 May 1935 (age 83)[1]
Education Great Ayton Friends' School
Alma mater University of Southampton (BSc, PhD)[1]
Anne Beatrice Mason (m. 1959)
Scientific career
Thesis On noise from convected turbulence (1961)
Doctoral students

John "Shôn" Eirwyn Ffowcs Williams, FREng FRSA FRAeS FInstP[7][8][1][7] (born 25 May 1935) is Emeritus Rank Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a former Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1996–2002).[9] He may be best known for his contributions to Aeroacoustics, in particular for his work on Concorde. Together with one of his students, David Hawkings,[10] he introduced the far-field integration method in computational aeroacoustics based on Lighthill's acoustic analogy, known as the Ffowcs Williams-Hawkings analogy.[11]

Education and early life[edit]

Born in Wales in 1935, Williams was educated at the Great Ayton Friends' School and Derby Technical College (now part of the University of Derby).[1] He served an engineering apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce before going to the University of Southampton, he always maintained a strong commitment to bring academic research to bear on industrial problems. He was awarded Bachelor of Science degree and a PhD from the University of Southampton in 1961.

Career and research[edit]

He cofounded Topexpress Ltd, a consultancy company in Cambridge specialising in engineering science, was executive consultant to Rolls Royce and a director of VSEL plc. For 25 years he led the division in which The University Cambridge's Fluid Mechanics, Aeronautics, Thermodynamics, and Turbomachinery work is concentrated.[citation needed]

He was admitted to his Professorial Fellowship at Emmanuel in 1973; he was the longest-serving professor in the University when he retired from his chair in 2002. He taught engineering for the College but, before becoming Master his main College contribution was serving on the Governing Body and its committees. He was the first holder of the Rank Chair of engineering established in 1972 in the field of Acoustics, coming to Cambridge from Imperial College London,[1] where he held the Rolls-Royce Chair in theoretical Acoustics. His speciality was noise and vibration caused by unsteady flow. His main achievement was to persuade very good research students to tackle important but interesting problems which ranged from the aeroacoustics of supersonic flight, to the quietening of underwater platforms. His work helped make anti-sound useful for noise control and for stabilising unstable aeromechanical systems.[citation needed]

His doctoral students include David Crighton,[2][3] Steve Furber[2][5][6] and David Hawkings.[10]

Awards and honours[edit]

Williams was award an Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) from the University of Southampton[citation needed][when?] and Master of Arts and Doctor of Science (ScD)[citation needed] degrees from the University of Cambridge.[when?]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Anon (2017) Ffowcs Williams, Prof. John Eirwyn. Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. closed access publication – behind paywall doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.15677 (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d John Ffowcs Williams at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ a b Crighton, David George (1969). Wave motion and vibration induced by turbulent flow. (PhD thesis). University of London. hdl:10044/1/15756. OCLC 930650746. EThOS Free to read
  4. ^ Williams, J. E. F. (1961). "Noise from Convected Turbulence". Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 33 (11): 1675. doi:10.1121/1.1936718.
  5. ^ a b Furber, Stephen Byram (1979). Is the Weis-Fogh principle exploitable in turbomachines?. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 500446535. EThOS
  6. ^ a b Furber, S. B.; Williams, J. E. F. (1979). "Is the Weis-Fogh principle exploitable in turbomachinery?". Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 94 (3): 519. doi:10.1017/S0022112079001166.
  7. ^ a b c "List of Fellows".
  8. ^ Huang, Lixi; James Quinn, S.; Ellis, Peter D.M.; Ffowcs Williams, John E. (1995). "Biomechanics of snoring". Endeavour. 19 (3): 96–100. doi:10.1016/0160-9327(95)97493-R. ISSN 0160-9327.
  9. ^ "Emmanuel College Fellows". Archived from the original on 17 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b Hawkings, David Leonard (1968). Some forced wave problems in fluid mechanics. (PhD thesis). University of London. hdl:10044/1/15859. OCLC 894599420. EThOS Free to read
  11. ^ Williams, J. E. F.; Hawkings, D. L. (1969). "Sound Generation by Turbulence and Surfaces in Arbitrary Motion". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Royal Society. 264 (1151): 321–342. doi:10.1098/rsta.1969.0031. ISSN 1364-503X.
  12. ^ "Prix et médailles de la SFA, Médaille Étrangère".
  13. ^ "Through the sound barrier without a boom?". The Royal Academy of Engineering. 17 May 2002. Archived from the original on 14 December 2011.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Norman St John-Stevas
Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Lord Wilson of Dinton