James H. Wilkinson

Encyclopedia

**James Hardy Wilkinson**was a prominent figure in the field of numerical analysis

Numerical analysis

Numerical analysis is the study of algorithms that use numerical approximation for the problems of mathematical analysis ....

, a field at the boundary of applied mathematics

Applied mathematics

Applied mathematics is a branch of mathematics that concerns itself with mathematical methods that are typically used in science, engineering, business, and industry. Thus, "applied mathematics" is a mathematical science with specialized knowledge...

and computer science

Computer science

Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

particularly useful to physics

Physics

Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

and engineering

Engineering

Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

.

## Early life

Born in StroodStrood

Strood is a town in the unitary authority of Medway in South East England. It is part of the ceremonial county of Kent. It lies on the north west bank of the River Medway at its lowest bridging point, and is part of the Rochester post town....

, England

England

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, he attended the Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School

Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School

Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School is a boys' grammar school in Rochester, Kent, often known as Rochester Math or The Math. It was founded by the 17th-century politician Sir Joseph Williamson, who left £5,000 to set up the school and another in Thetford in Norfolk...

in Rochester. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge

Trinity College, Cambridge

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

, where he graduated top of the class.

## Career

Taking up war work in 1940, he began working on ballistics but transferred to the National Physical LaboratoryNational Physical Laboratory, UK

The National Physical Laboratory is the national measurement standards laboratory for the United Kingdom, based at Bushy Park in Teddington, London, England. It is the largest applied physics organisation in the UK.-Description:...

in 1946, where he worked with Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS , was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which played a...

on the ACE

Pilot ACE

The Pilot ACE was one of the first computers built in the United Kingdom, at the National Physical Laboratory in the early 1950s.It was a preliminary version of the full ACE, which had been designed by Alan Turing. After Turing left NPL , James H...

computer project.

Later, Wilkinson's interests took him into the numerical analysis field, where he discovered many significant algorithm

Algorithm

In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

s.

## Recognition

He received the Turing AwardTuring Award

The Turing Award, in full The ACM A.M. Turing Award, is an annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the...

in 1970 "for his research in numerical analysis to facilitate the use of the high-speed digital computer, having received special recognition for his work in computations in linear algebra and 'backward' error analysis

Error analysis

Error analysis is the study of kind and quantity of error that occurs, particularly in the fields of applied mathematics , applied linguistics and statistics.- Error analysis in numerical modeling :...

." In the same year, he also gave the John von Neumann

John von Neumann

John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath who made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including set theory, functional analysis, quantum mechanics, ergodic theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics and game theory, computer science, numerical analysis,...

Lecture at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics was founded by a small group of mathematicians from academia and industry who met in Philadelphia in 1951 to start an organization whose members would meet periodically to exchange ideas about the uses of mathematics in industry. This meeting led...

.

The J. H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software

J. H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software

The J. H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software is awarded every four years to honor outstanding contributions to the field of numerical software.- Overview :In honour of the outstanding contributions of James H...

is named in his honour.

## External links

- James H. Wilkinson,
*Turing's Work at the National Physical Laboratory and the Construction of Pilot ACE, DEUCE and ACE*(in Nicholas Metropolis, J. Howlett, Gian-Carlo Rota, (editors),*A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century*, Academic PressAcademic PressAcademic Press is an academic book publisher. Originally independent, it was acquired by Harcourt, Brace & World in 1969. Reed Elsevier bought Harcourt in 2000, and Academic Press is now an imprint of Elsevier....

, New York, 1980) - Photo of Wilkinson from Nick HighamNicholas HighamNicholas John Higham FRS is a numerical analyst and Richardson Professor of Applied Mathematics at the School of Mathematics, University of Manchester....

's archive