Professor Emeritus AMJ Davis Passes Away


Professor Emeritus AMJ Davis

Anthony Michael John Davis died in San Diego, California, on 25 April 2021. Tony was born in London in December 1939. He received an Open Exhibition in Mathematics and went up to St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1956. He received a BA in 1960 and was a Wrangler, with a distinction in Part III of the Tripos. He carried out his PhD research under the supervision of Fritz Ursell, FRS, subsequently receiving a DSc in 1977 from the University of London for contributions to the theory of surface waves.

After spending time as Head Mathematician at the Mining Research Establishment of the National Coal Board in 1963–1965, he was Lecturer and then Reader in Mathematics at University College London from 1965–1984. During this time, he visited a number of universities worldwide and was a Fulbright Scholar in 1972–1973 at the University of Denver.

He married Roberta (Bobbie), née Mallett, in 1965, and they had two children, Nigel (b.1967) and Sandra (b.1971).

After leaving UCL, Tony was a Visiting Professor of Mathematics and Oceanography at the University of Hawaii in Spring 1985. He was then Professor of Mathematics at the University of Alabama from 1985 to 2006.

After spending an enjoyable sabbatical in 2005 visiting the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), he and Bobbie moved to Carlsbad in North San Diego County in 2006, where they were closer to their daughter, Sandra, and where they had made friends during their sabbatical. Tony kept a visitor status in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCSD. He remained active until COVID-19, and would come in several days a week. He enjoyed having lunch outdoors with colleagues and attending seminars.

He continued to collaborate with engineers and mathematicians worldwide, and would attend the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics (of which he was a life member) every year, making sure to meet friends for dinner. He also attended other conferences and symposia, and would also visit Milne Anderson, formerly of UCL, in London regularly until Milne died.

His research interests included low-Reynolds number hydrodynamics, scattering of electromagnetic waves, surface gravity waves on water, and acoustic diffraction. In all of these areas, he was a master of analytical techniques, and always keen to learn new approaches. As noted by long-time collaborator David Abrahams, he “held a unique collection of techniques and encyclopaedic knowledge. His passing marks the end of such people I think.” He was a conscientious and rigorous reviewer for journals.

He followed cricket, rugby (he had played for Wasps) and English (in particular Arsenal)  football regularly, benefiting from the Sporting Life’s website. He enjoyed going to Padres baseball games; his accounts of the games sometimes discussed the length of the game more than the score. He could always be counted on to bring good beer to parties and enjoyed social events.

He is survived by his wife Bobbie, his son Nigel and daughter-in-law Dawn of Annapolis, his daughter Sandra of Los Angeles, and grandchildren.

Tony will be much missed by family, friends and colleagues for his kindness, vast knowledge of applied mathematics, and willingness to pursue new and interesting problems.