Wilbur B. Davenport Jr. of Medford, Ore., professor emeritus of electrical engineering and former department head who also held several leadership positions at Lincoln Laboratory, died on Aug. 28 at the age of 83.
Davenport, who received the S.M. and Ph.D. from MIT in 1943 and 1950 respectively, began working for the Institute as an instructor in electrical engineering in 1941 and was an assistant professor from 1949-53. In 1951, he joined Lincoln Lab as leader of the Communications Technology Group and became associate head of the Communications and Components Division in 1955. Two years later he was named head of that division and in 1958 became head of the newly formed Information Processing Division.
In 1960, Davenport returned to the MIT campus as a full professor. He was associate director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics from 1961-63, when he was named assistant director of Lincoln Lab, a post he held until 1965. He rejoined MIT's electrical engineering and computer science faculty in 1968 and was associate head of the department for the areas of electrical science and engineering from 1968-71. He was department head from 1974-78. In 1972, Davenport was appointed professor of engineering and education in the School of Science and director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Study. He retired in 1982.
Davenport was author of "Prob-ability and Random Processes" (1975) and co-authored two other books, including "An Introduction to the Theory of Random Signal and Noise" (1958).
He is survived by his wife, Joan; a son, Mark of Turlock, Calif., and a daughter, Sally Clevenger of Bellbrook, Ohio.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 22, 2003.