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Rolf Nevanlinna Prize

The Rolf Nevanlinna Prize was awarded from 1982 to 2018, it is continued as the IMU Abacus Medal.

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

  1. 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.
  2. Scientific computing and numerical analysis. Computational aspects of optimization and control theory. Computer algebra.

The Rolf Nevanlinna Prize Committee was chosen by the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union. A candidate's 40th birthday must not occur before January 1st of the year of the Congress at which the Prize is awarded.

The name of the Chair of the Committee was made public, but the names of other members of the Committee remained anonymous until the award of the prize at the Congress.

Statutes for the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize

The details of the Award, the nomination, and the selection can be found in the Statutes for the Award.

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.

Physical Medal

Material - Au 585/00 (14KT Gold)
Engraving - In the border starting from 12 o'clock
Finish - Upper and bottom surfaces scrubbed (not shining but not quite matt) border surfaces shined
Package - Case of oak
Prize - 5,000 EUR

The name of the prize winner is engraved on the rim.

The 2010 cash value of the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize 10,000 EUR.

Fields Medal Front
Fields Medal Back




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.


Former Prize Committees


  • Tony F. Chan (chair)
    Manindra Agrawal
    Emmanuel Candes
    Shafi Goldwasser
    Nick Higham
    Jon Kleinberg


  • Avi Wigderson (chair)
    Thierry Coquand
    Yuri Nesterov
    Jaikumar Radhakrishnan
    Eva Tardos
    Leslie Valiant


  • Ravindran Kannan (chair)
    Stanley Osher
    Olivier Pironneau
    Madhu Sudan
    Emo Welzl


  • Margaret H. Wright (chair)
    Samson Abramsky
    Franco Brezzi
    Gert-Martin Greuel
    Johan Håstad


  • Michael Rabin (chair)
    Andrei Agrachev
    Ingrid Daubechies
    Wolfgang Hackbusch
    Alexander Schrijver


  • David Mumford (chair)
    Bjorn Engquist
    F. Thomas Leighton
    Alexander Razborov


  • J.-L. Lions (chair)


  • Lovász (chair)


  • Faddeev (chair)


  • J.-L. Lions (chair)
    J. Schwartz