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James Hardy Wilkinson (27 September, 19195 October, 1986) was a prominent figure in the field of numerical analysis, a field at the boundary of applied mathematics and computer science particularly useful to physics and engineering.

Early life

Born in Stroodmarker, Englandmarker, he attended the Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical Schoolmarker in Rochestermarker. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridgemarker, where he graduated top of the class.


Taking up war work in 1940, he began working on ballistics but transferred to the National Physical Laboratorymarker in 1946, where he worked with Alan Turing on the ACE computer project.

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


He received the Turing Award 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." In the same year, he also gave the John von Neumann Lecture at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

The J. H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software is named in his honour.

Personal life

He married Heather Ware in 1945. They had a son.

See also

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 Press, New York, 1980)
  • Photo of Wilkinson from Nick Higham's archive

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