Dr. Robert B. Abernethy
Phone & FAX (561) 842 4082
Dr. E. H. Waloddi Weibull
The Weibull distribution is by far the world’s most
popular statistical model for life data. It is also used in many other
applications, such as weather forecasting and fitting data of all kinds. Among
all statistical techniques it may be employed for engineering analysis with
smaller sample sizes than any other method. Having researched and applied this
method for almost half a century, I am honored to write this short biography of
this remarkable man from
Waloddi Weibull was born on
was a midshipman in the Royal Swedish Coast Guard in 1904 was promoted to sublieutenant in 1907, Captain in 1916, and Major in
1940. He took courses at the Royal
Institute of Technology where he later became a full professor (1924) and
graduated in 1924. His doctorate is from the
His first paper was on the propagation of explosive wave
in 1914. He took part in expeditions to the
In 1941 BOFORS, a Swedish arms factory, gave him a
personal research professorship in Technical Physics at the Royal Institute of
He published many papers on strength of materials, fatigue, rupture in solids, bearings, and of course, the Weibull distribution. The author has identified 65 papers to date plus his excellent book on fatigue analysis (1), 1961. 27 of these papers were reports to the US Air Force at Wright Field on Weibull analysis. (Most of these reports to WPAFB are no longer available even from NTIS. The author would appreciate copies of Weibull’s papers from the WPAFB files.) Dr. Weibull was a frequent visitor to WPAFB and many of our universities.
His most famous paper (2)
presented in the
Robert Heller (3) spoke at the
1984 Symposium to the Memory of Waloddi Weibull in
“In 1963, at the
invitation of the Professor Freudenthal, he became a
Visiting Professor at
“The Extreme Value
family of distributions, to which both the Gumbel and
the Weibull type belong, is most applicable to materials, structures and
biological systems because it has an increasing failure rate and can describe
wear out processes. Well, these two men, both in their late seventies at the
time, showed that these distributions did not apply to them. They did not wear
out but were full of life and energy. Gumbel went
skiing every weekend and when I took Dr. and Mrs. Weibull to the Roosevelt Home
In 1972, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (4) awarded Dr. Weibull their gold medal citing Professor Weibull as “a pioneer in the study of fracture, fatigue, and reliability who has contributed to the literature for over thirty years. His statistical treatment of strength and life has found widespread application in engineering design.” The award was presented by Dr. Richard Folsom, President of ASME, and President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute when the author was a student there. By coincidence the author received the 1988 ASME gold medal for statistical contributions including advancements in Weibull analysis.
The author has an unconfirmed
story told by friends at Wright Patterson Air Force Base that Dr. Weibull was
in a great state of happiness on his last visit to lecture at the Air Force
Institute of Technology in 1975 as he had just been married to a pretty young
Swedish girl. He was 88 years old at the time. His first wife has passed on
earlier. It was on this trip that the photo above was taken at the
The US Air Force Materials Laboratory should be commended for encouraging Waloddi Weibull for many years with research contracts. The author is also indebted to WPAFB for contracting the original USAF Weibull Analysis Handbook (5) and Weibull video training tape, as he was the principal author of both. The latest version of that Handbook is the fourth edition of The New Weibull Handbook (6).
proudest moment came in 1978 when he received the Great Gold medal from the
He was devoted to his family and was proud of his nine children and numerous grand and great-grandchildren.
Dr. Weibull was a member of many
technical societies and worked to the last day of his remarkable life. He died
The Weibull Distribution was
first published in 1939, over 60 years ago and has proven to be invaluable for
life data analysis in aerospace, automotive, electric power, nuclear power,
medical, dental, electronics, every industry. Yet the author is frustrated that only three
universities in the
The author would appreciate
comments and questions about Waloddi Weibull and
Weibull analysis. E-mail: email@example.com Mail:
1. Weibull, Waloddi, "Fatigue Testing and Analysis of Results", Pergamon Press, 1961.
2. Weibull, Waloddi, "A Statistical Distribution Function of Wide Applicability," Journal of Applied Mechanics, 1951.The hallmark paper of Weibull analysis...and easy reading.
3. S. Eggwertz & N.C. Lind, Editors:”Probabilistic Methods in the Mechanics of Solids and
4. ASME New Release: Waloddi Weibull Receives the ASME Medal., November 1972.
5. Abernethy, Robert B.; J. E. Breneman; C. H. Medlin; G. L. Reinman; "Weibull Analysis Handbook", U.S. Air Force AFWAL‑TR‑83‑2079, November 1983, AD #A143100 Approximately 14,000 copies were distributed by the US Air Force, Pratt & Whitney, and the author.
6. Abernethy, Robert B. “The New Weibull Handbook,” Fourth Edition, November 2000, published by the author. ISBN 0-9653062-1-6. Over 13,000 copies are in circulation.
7. Weibull, Waloddi, "Estimation of Distribution Parameters by a Combination of the Best Linear Order Statistic Method and Maximum Likelihood", USAF AFML-TR-67-105, April 1967.
You can download a PDF copy of Dr. Weibull’s biography as written by Dr. Abernethy. Other copies of Dr. Weibull’s papers are available on the Internet for download as PDF files. You can also see copies of Dr. Weibull’s problems solved with best practices recommended by The New Weibull Handbook as Problems Of The Month.
http://www.barringer1.com or send Email to Paul Barringer at firstname.lastname@example.org Barringer contributes details to The New Weibull Handbook concerning business issues. You have downloaded this file from Barringer & Associates, Inc. website at http://www.barringer1.com .
Last Revision: 7/30/2003