In mathematics there is a concept known as ‘Conformal Mapping’ which allows you convert a given shape to a completely different one by making a transformation.

In the joukowski transform you take all the points on a circle and apply the following transform:

And the resulting transformed points resemble an aerofoil shape. Pretty cool huh ?

** Conformal mappings are a really cool topic in complex analysis but also equally extensive. If you want to know more about them click here

EDIT:

I forgot to mention that the transformation of a circle into an aerofoil is a very special case and the transformation of other shapes would yield distinct shapes. ( very different from an aerofoil )