John Ffowcs Williams

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John Eirwyn Ffowcs Williams
Born Shôn Ffowcs Williams
(1935-05-25) May 25, 1935 (age 86)[1]
Alma mater University of Southampton
Thesis On noise from convected turbulence (1961)
Doctoral students
Notable awards FREng[6]
Spouse Anne Beatrice Mason[1]

John "Shôn" Eirwyn Ffowcs Williams, BSc, PhD, Hon. DSc (Soton), MA, ScD (Cantab), FREng[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).[8] He may be best known for his contributions to Aeroacoustics, in particular for his work on Concorde. Together with one of his students, David L. Hawkings, he introduced the far-field integration method in Computational aeroacoustics based on Lighthill's acoustic analogy, known as the Ffowcs Williams-Hawkings analogy (FW-H).[9]


Born in Wales in 1935, schooled in England and serving 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 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 Cambridge University'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, 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]

Awards and honours


  1. 1.0 1.1 "FFOWCS WILLIAMS, Prof. John Eirwyn" (Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(subscription required)
  2. John Ffowcs Williams at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. Williams, J. E. F. (1961). "Noise from Convected Turbulence". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 33 (11): 1675. doi:10.1121/1.1936718.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Furber, Stephen Byram (1979). Is the Weis-Fogh principle exploitable in turbomachines? (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Emmanuel College Fellows". Archived from the original on 17 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Original Paper on the FW-H Equation" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Through the sound barrier without a boom?". The Royal Academy of Engineering. 17 May 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lord St John of Fawsley
Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Lord Wilson of Dinton