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Gerald B. Whitham


Gerald B. Whitham, Charles Lee Powell Professor of Applied Mathematics, Emeritus, passed away on Sunday, January 26. He was 86 years old.

Whitham, a pioneer in the area of nonlinear waves whose research focused on fluid dynamics and the study of wave phenomena, including sonic booms, supersonic flow and shock-wave dynamics, and ocean waves, received his BSc in 1948, MSc in 1949, and PhD in 1953, all from the University of Manchester. He came to Caltech in 1961 as a visiting professor of applied mathematics, was a professor of aeronautics and mathematics from 1962 to 1967, a professor of applied mathematics from 1967 to 1983, and the Powell Professor until his retirement in 1998.

Whitham, who was instrumental in setting up Caltech's applied mathematics program in 1962, served as the executive officer for applied mathematics from 1971 to 1980. He was a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of London.

Written by Kathy Svitil