Keith Stewartson

Keith Stewartson (20 September 1925 – 7 May 1983) was an English mathematician and fellow of the Royal Society.

Keith Stewartson
Born(1925-09-20)September 20, 1925
DiedMay 7, 1983(1983-05-07) (aged 57)
London, England
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Known forDavey–Stewartson equation
Boundary layer
Illingworth-Stewartson transformation
triple-deck theory
Spouse(s)Jean Forrester
Scientific career
Fluid Dynamics
InstitutionsBristol University
University of Durham
University College, London
Thesis (1949)
Doctoral advisorLeslie Howarth[1]
InfluencesSelig Brodetsky

Early life

The youngest of three children, Stewartson was born to an English baker in 1925. He was raised in Billingham, County Durham, where he attended Stockton Secondary School, and went to St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1942. He won the Drury Prize in 1943 for his work in Mathematical Tripos.[2][3]


After graduation, with the Second World War still on-going, Stewartson began employment with the Ministry of Aircraft Production. During his time there he studied compressible fluid flow problems. After the war he returned to Cambridge and received the Mayhew Prize in 1946. He resumed research under the guidance of Leslie Howarth on boundary layer theory. His research led to his first publication, "Correlated incompressible and compressible boundary layers", which was published by the Royal Society in 1949. He received his doctorate the same year and became a lecturer at Bristol University in 1950. In 1953 he went to the United States to become a lecturer at the California Institute of Technology for a year before returning to Bristol University. In 1958 he was awarded a chair at the University of Durham. After finding Durham University too conservative, he moved to University College, London in 1964. In his time there, he studied rotating fluid flows, shear layers, magnetohydrodynamics, triple-deck theory, and Reynolds number. He played major role in the founding of Institute of Mathematics and its Applications along with James Lighthill.[4] In his career he authored 186 papers.[2][3] He is the author of The Theory of laminar boundary layers in compressible fluids.

Natural convection boundary-layers along horizontal plate also known as the indirect convection was first explained by Stewartson in 1958[5].

Personal life

Stewartson was known as a passionate rower and enjoyed theatre and opera. In 1950, he married Jean Forrester; they had three children. In 1965, he became a member of the Royal Society. In 1974, he suffered a heart attack which he recovered from, before suffering a subsequent one in 1983 which hospitalized him.[6] Two weeks later he had a third heart attack which proved fatal.[2][3]


  2. "Keith Stewartson Biography". School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  3. Stuart, J T (January 1986). "Keith Stewartson: His Life and Work". Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics. 18 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1146/annurev.fl.18.010186.000245. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  5. Stewartson, K. (1958). On the free convection from a horizontal plate. Zeitschrift für angewandte Mathematik und Physik ZAMP, 9(3), 276-282.
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