Overview of the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize

The Rolf Nevanlinna Prize is awarded once every 4 years at the International Congress of Mathematicians, for outstanding contributions in Mathematical Aspects of Information Sciences including:

All mathematical aspects of computer science, including complexity theory, logic of programming languages, analysis of algorithms, cryptography, computer vision, pattern recognition, information processing and modelling of intelligence.
Scientific computing and numerical analysis. Computational aspects of optimization and control theory. Computer algebra.
The Rolf Nevanlinna Prize Committee is chosen by the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union. The name of the Chair of the Committee is made public, but the names of other members of the Committee remain anonymous until the award of the prize at the Congress. A candidate’s 40th birthday must not occur before January 1st of the year of the Congress at which the Prize is awarded. If a former student (Ph.D. thesis only) of a Committee member is seriously considered, such a member shall not continue to serve on the Committee for its final decision.

History of the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize
Text By Olli Lehto, August 12, 1998
(Secretary of IMU from 1983 to 1990)

The Rolf Nevanlinna Prize in mathematical aspects of information science was established by the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) in April 1981. It was decided that the prize should consist of a gold medal and a cash prize similar to the ones associated with the Fields Medal and that one prize should be given at each International Congress of Mathematicians.

One year later, in April 1982, the IMU accepted the offer by the University of Helsinki to finance the prize. The prize was named the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize in honor of Rolf Nevanlinna (1895-1980), who had been Rector of the University of Helsinki and President of the IMU and who in the 1950s had taken the initiative to the computer organization at Finnish universities.

On its obverse side, the medal represents Nevanlinna and bears the text "Rolf Nevanlinna Prize". In addition, there is in very small characters "RH 83". RH refers to the Finnish sculptor Raimo Heino (1932-95) who designed the medal, and 83 to the year 1983 when the first medal was minted. On the reverse side, the two figures are related to the University of Helsinki. On the University’s seal in the lower right, the text "Universitas Helsingiensis" is readable. The seal is from the 17th century, except for the Cross of Liberty, which was added to it in 1940. In the upper left part, the word "Helsinki" is in coded form. The name of the prizewinner is engraved on the rim of the medal.