David Crighton


David George Crighton, FRS[1] (15 November 1942 – 12 April 2000) was a British mathematician and physicist.[2][3][4][5][6]

David Crighton
David George Crighton

(1942-11-15)15 November 1942
Llandudno, Wales
Died12 April 2000(2000-04-12) (aged 57)
Cambridge, England
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
Known forFluid mechanics, acoustics
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society
Scientific career
InstitutionsWoolwich Polytechnic
Imperial College London
University of Leeds
University of Cambridge
ThesisWave motion and vibration induced by turbulent flow (1968)
Doctoral advisorJohn Ffowcs Williams


Crighton was born in Llandudno, North Wales. His mother, Violet Grace Garrison, had been sent there because of the bombing of London during World War II. He didn't become interested in mathematics until his last two years at Watford Grammar School for Boys. He entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1961 and started lecturing at Woolwich Polytechnic (today University of Greenwich) in 1964, having completed only his bachelor's degree.

A few years later he met John Ffowcs Williams and started to work for him at Imperial College London, while simultaneously studying for his doctorate (awarded in 1969) at the same place. In 1974, he was appointed as a research fellow in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. However, he never took up this post, but instead accepted the chair in applied mathematics at the University of Leeds, which he held until 1986.

He then returned to Cambridge as Professor of applied mathematics in succession to George Batchelor.

Later he became a well-loved Master of Jesus College (1997–2000), and was head of the Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics department (DAMTP) in Cambridge between 1991 and 2000, where he was held in huge regard by the faculty and students.

Away from his mathematical work, Crighton was a devotee of the music of Richard Wagner, as well as music for the piano.[7]


Crighton's scientific interests were primarily in the theory of waves and aeroacoustics, as well as in some areas of fluid mechanics. He published over 120 papers and one book.[citation needed]

In his first paper, Crighton studied the sound wave associated with turbulent flow over a discontinuous surface formed by two semi-infinite flexible planes. Over the years he worked broadly in the fields of acoustics, equation theory and quasi-diabatic systems including solitons. This included works on the generalised Burgers' equation and inverse scattering theory.

The distinction of his work was recognised by the award of the Rayleigh Medal of the Institute of Acoustics, the Per Bruel Gold Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Otto Laporte Award of the American Physical Society.

David Crighton MedalEdit

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society instituted the David Crighton Medal in 2002 in honour of Crighton. The award is made biennially, and was first presented in 2003.[8] Holders of the medal include Frank Kelly, Peter Neumann, Keith Moffatt, Christopher Zeeman, John Ball, and David Abrahams.[9]


  1. ^ Huppert, H. E.; Peake, N. (2001). "David George Crighton. 15 November 1942 – 12 April 2000: Elected F.R.S. 1993". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 47: 105. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2001.0007. S2CID 62728454.
  2. ^ "Crighton". University of St. Andrews on David Crighton. Retrieved 3 March 2005.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Professor David Crighton". The Times. 19 April 2000.
  4. ^ Pedley, TJ (19 April 2000). "Obituary: David Crighton". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "DAMTP Professor David George Crighton page at the University of Cambridge". Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  6. ^ "DAMTP David Crighton: An obituary by Keith Moffat". Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  7. ^ Williams, J. E. Ffowcs (September 2000). "Obituary: David George Crighton". Physics Today. 53 (9): 82–83. Bibcode:2000PhT....53i..82W. doi:10.1063/1.1325246.
  8. ^ "David Crighton Medal". UK: Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  9. ^ "David Crighton Medal Award". London Mathematical Society. Archived from the original on 21 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
Academic offices
Preceded by Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
1997 - 2000
Succeeded by