David Acheson (mathematician)


David John Acheson (born 1946) is a British applied mathematician at Jesus College, Oxford.[1]

David Acheson
Born1946 (age 75–76)
Alma materKing's College London
University of East Anglia
Scientific career
ThesisThe Magnetohydrodynamics of Rotating Fluids (1971)
Doctoral advisorMichael Barker Glauert

He was educated at Highgate School, King's College London (BSc Mathematics and Physics, 1967) and the University of East Anglia (PhD, 1971).[2] He was appointed a Fellow in Mathematics at Jesus College, Oxford in 1977 and became an Emeritus Fellow in 2008. He served as President of the Mathematical Association from 2010 to 2011. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of East Anglia in 2013.[3]

His early research was on geophysical and astrophysical fluid dynamics, beginning with the discovery in 1972 of a magnetic 'field gradient' instability in rotating fluids.[4] In 1976, he discovered the first examples of wave over-reflection (i.e. reflection coefficient greater than unity) in a stable system. In 1978 his research focused on magnetic fields and differential rotation in stars, with new results on magnetic buoyancy, the Taylor instability, Goldreich-Schubert instability, and, 'magnetorotational' instability. In 1992 he discovered the 'upside-down pendulums theorem' (which is very loosely connected with the Indian Rope Trick).


  • Elementary Fluid Dynamics (1990)
  • From Calculus to Chaos (1997)
  • 1089 and All That (2002)
  • The Calculus Story: A Mathematical Adventure (2017)
  • The Wonder Book of Geometry: A Mathematical Story (2020)


  1. ^ "Dr David Acheson". Jesus College, Oxford. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  2. ^ "David Acheson". Jesus College, Oxford. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  3. ^ "UEA to honour notable alumni at its 50th anniversary graduation". University of East Anglia. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  4. ^ "About David Acheson".