UK Nonlinear News Issue 74, Mar 2014

Prof K A Cliffe
9 June 1953 - 5 January 2014
Andrew Cliffe, Professor of Computational Applied Mathematics at The University of Nottingham passed away after a long illness on Sunday, 5 January 2014. Despite his serious illness, Andrew remained bright, cheerful and as optimistic as ever. The optimism was strongly underpinned by Andrew's faith, Andrew serving as an elder in the church that he and his family attended. This very brief outline of his life is based in part on an interview in 2010 that captures the essential qualities of the man: his enthusiasm, openness, humility and humanity.
Andrew was born in South Cheshire to a farming family, and always bemoaned the many early mornings he spent milking cows. He left school at 16 to work on the family farm but, after his father had deliberately inflicted on him a summer of backbreaking labour to dissuade him from following this path, he returned to Nantwich and Acton Grammar School to study Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at A level. Indeed, his love of mathematics was lifelong: his mother remembers him insisting on taking mathematics books on family holidays, even sharing a small tent with a pile of them. After receiving his A-level results, his head teacher arranged an interview for him at Churchill College, Cambridge, and he went up the following year, having spent a gap year doing research at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough. Andrew graduated with a First in Mathematics (though he only found this out after sending his future wife, Wendy, to Cambridge to look up his results!) and joined Harwell Laboratory, in spite of attending his interview wearing a large woolly jumper under his suit in an attempt to disguise his having forgotten to take a tie. Andrew entered UKAEA as a Scientific Officer, based in the Theoretical Physics Division at a time when it had three Fellows of the Royal Society working there. Andrew worked on developing finite-element codes for computational fluid dynamics. In the 1980s, stimulated by hearing a seminar at Harwell given by Brooke Benjamin, Andrew's interest in bifurcation theory was ignited and led to Andrew's long and fruitful collaboration with Tom Mullin, who was then Brooke Benjamin's postdoc at Oxford. Andrew and Tom produced significant and novel results concerning the Taylor-Couette problem, which is fundamental to the understanding of the onset of turbulent flow and the role of geometric symmetry-breaking in the Navier-Stokes equations and associated chaotic dynamics. Their work in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics in 1985 is widely acknowledged as a classic. Andrew's work was characterised by the manner in which he enriched his numerical work with fundamental ideas from the then rapidly growing field of nonlinear dynamics. Andrew's interactions with academia grew, inter alia through a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship at Oxford in 1986-88 and through the supervision of CASE-sponsored research students.
In the mid-90s UKAEA was privatised and Andrew's work, first for AEA Technology plc then for Serco Assurance, became more commercially focused, which in turn began to constrain Andrew's freedom to engage with blue-skies research. In 2005 Andrew resigned his post of Chief Mathematical Modeller and took up a Chair in Computational Applied Mathematics in the School of Mathematical Sciences at The University of Nottingham. The Chair was initially co-sponsored by Rolls-Royce plc and Andrew quickly succeeded in producing fundamental results that had real impact in the aerospace industry. Meanwhile he also fully engaged with the challenge of developing a scientific computation group comprising applied and theoretical numerical analysts and mathematical modellers. Andrew inspired and encouraged by example and his influence was deep and wide-ranging. He admitted to surprising himself by proving to be a very popular teacher: he always found time to help students and his teaching was consistently enthusiastic, progressive, thoughtful and stimulating.
The scope of his research encompassed a range of applications to groundwater flow, ice-sheet modelling, computing, nonlinear systems, computational fluid dynamics, turbulence, combustion, and, following his move to Nottingham, uncertainty quantification, energy and transport. Andrew leaves behind an extraordinary legacy and he will be sorely missed: those who met Andrew were inevitably influenced and enriched by the experience - Andrew was always interested in the human being with whom he was interacting. He loved mathematics and the weird phenomena it could describe and/or explain; his energy and enthusiasm for science was infectious. Although Andrew gave many hours to helping students, encouraging staff and pursuing his own work, he never neglected those closest to him - he was an immensely proud, committed and loving family man. He is survived by his wife Wendy, son Joel, daughter Gabrielle, and grandson Zachary.

David Riley, January 2014


  • This year's BAMC will be held in Cardiff, 28-30 Apr. The public lecture, by Prof. Mary Lou Zeeman, is
    Harnessing Maths to Understand Tipping Points in Climate and Sustainability
  • The next PANDA meeting
    Heteroclinic dynamics and the edge of turbulence
    will be held in the School of Mathematics, University of Leeds on 11am-4pm, Wednesday 23rd April. There will be two review/pedagogical talks:
    • Claire Postlethwaite (Auckland): Heteroclinic networks: stability, switching and memory
    • Ashley Willis (Sheffield): Travelling waves in turbulent shear flows: their discovery and role in transition
  • The annual meeting of the UK & Ireland branch of SIAM took place at University College London in January, for the first time held jointly with an IMA workshop.
    The 19th edition of the SIAM UKIE annual meeting will be held at the University of Bath on 8th January 2015, followed by an IMA meeting on Applied Mathematics on 9th January 2015.
    SIAMUKIE will sponsor 5 Student Prizes at this year's British Applied Mathematics Colloquium.
  • The London Mathematical Society invites proposals for Durham Symposia in 2015 and beyond.
  • SIAM will not have an annual meeting in 2015. Instead, SIAM encourages its members to attend ICIAM 2015, which will be held August 10-14, 2015 in Beijing, China.


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Issue Seventy-five: June 2014

Issue Seventy-five is scheduled for June 2014. Submission of news (new courses, meetings, conferences, new appointments, jobs, new research directions etc.), comments or articles about any aspect of nonlinearity in the UK are very welcome and should arrive by 10 June 2014.