The Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software

Outstanding contributions to numerical software

James Wilkinson

The Wilkinson Prize was established to honour the outstanding contributions of Dr James Hardy Wilkinson to the field of numerical software. It is awarded every four years at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics by Argonne National Laboratory, the National Physical Laboratory, and the Numerical Algorithms Group. The recipients are authors of an outstanding piece of numerical software, judged on:

  • the clarity of the software implementation and documentation;
  • the importance of the application(s) addressed by the software;
  • the portability, reliability, efficiency and usability of the software implementation;
  • the clarity and depth of analysis of the algorithms and the software in the submission;
  • the quality of the test software.

The 2015 prize is awarded to P.E. Farrell (University of Oxford), S.W. Funke (Simula Research Laboratory), D.A. Ham (Imperial College London), and M.E. Rognes (Simula Research laboratory) for the development of dolfin-adjoint, a package which automatically derives and solves adjoint and tangent linear equations from high-level mathematical specifications of finite element discretisations of partial differential equations.  The prize will be presented at ICIAM 2015 and will consist of $3000 plus a commemorative plaque for each winner.

The need for adjoints of partial differential equations (PDEs) pervades science and engineering. Adjoints enable the study of the sensitivity and stability of physical systems, and the optimization of designs subject to constraints. While deriving the adjoint model associated with a linear stationary forward model is straightforward, the derivation and implementation of adjoint models for nonlinear or time-dependent models is notoriously difficult. dolfin-adjoint solves this problem by automatically analysing and exploiting the high-level mathematical structure inherent in finite element methods.  It is implemented on top of the FEniCS Project for finite element discretisations.

Previous prize winners:

  • 2011: Andreas Waechter and Carl D. Laird for Ipopt.
  • 2007: Wolfgang Bangerth for deal.II.
  • 2003: Jonathan Shewchuch for Triangle.
  • 1999: Matteo Frigo and Steven Johnson for FFTW.
  • 1995: Chris Bischof and Alan Carle for ADIFOR.
  • 1991: Linda Petzold for DASSL.