John R. Womersley

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John Ronald Womersley
Born (1907-06-20)June 20, 1907
Died March 7, 1958(1958-03-07) (aged 50)
Nationality British
Fields Mathematics, computation, fluid dynamics
Alma mater Imperial College of Science and Technology
Known for Womersley number

John Ronald Womersley (20 June 1907 – 7 March 1958) was a British mathematician who made important contributions to textiles, computing and arterial mechanics.[1] He studied mathematics at Imperial College of Science and Technology and subsequently worked at the Shirley Institute (British Cotton Industry Research Institute) Manchester. During World War II he was head of the Ministry of Supply Advisory Service on Statistical Methods. At the end of the war he was appointed superintendent of the Mathematics Division of the National Physical Laboratory.[2] He coined the name Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) for the early electronic computer developed there and recruited Alan Turing to work on it.[3] Later he managed a computer project at the British Tabulating Machine Company, went back to research at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and finally moved to the Wright Air Development Center, Dayton, Ohio, USA before his early death.[4] Nowadays he is principally remembered for his contribution to arterial fluid dynamics and the eponymous Womersley number, a dimensionless parameter expressing the relation of the frequency of pulsatile flow to viscosity.


  • Womersley, JR (1937). "The application of differential geometry to the study of the deformation of cloth under stress". Shirley Institute Memoirs. 16 (1). 
  • Hartree, D. R.; Womersley, J. R. (1937). "A method for the numerical or mechanical solution of certain types of partial differential equations". Proc. Royal Soc. A161: 353–366. 
  • Womersley, JR (1946). "Scientific computing in Great Britain". Math. Tables and Aids to Computation. 2: 110–117. doi:10.2307/2002621. 
  • Womersley, JR (1955). "Oscillatory motion of a viscous liquid in a thin-walled elastic tube. I. The linear approximation for long waves". Phil. Mag. 46: 199–221. doi:10.1080/14786440208520564. 
  • A bibliography may be found at [5]


  1. ^ Smithies, F. (1959). "John Ronald Womersley (Obituary)". J London Math Soc. 370: s1–34. 
  2. ^ Darwin, Sir Charles (1958). "John R. Womersley Obituary Tribute". Nature. 181 (461): 1240. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Carpenter, B.E.; Doran, R.W.; Womersley, John (2014). "Applied Mathematician and Pioneer of Modern Computing". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 36 (2): 60–70. doi:10.1109/MAHC.2014.25. 
  5. ^

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