Partial Differential Equations ‘dolfin-adjoint’ Software wins the 2015 Wilkinson Prize

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Prestigious numerical software prize, in honour of eminent mathematician, James Hardy Wilkinson, to be awarded at ICIAM 2015, China

11 June 2015 – The Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG), Argonne National Laboratory and the National Physical Laboratory announce and present the winner of the co-sponsored Wilkinson Prize 2015 to P.E. Farrell (University of Oxford), S.W. Funke (Simula Research Laboratory), D.A. Ham (Imperial College) and M.E. Rognes (Simula Research Laboratory) for “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 presentation of the award will take place at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2015) in Beijing. 

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 analyzing 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.

The Wilkinson Prize is awarded every four years to the entry that best addresses all phases of the preparation of numerical software, and is sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory (US), the Numerical Algorithms Group (UK), and the National Physical Laboratory (UK).

Speaking of the winning software, Mike Dewar, Chair of the Wilkinson Prize Board of Trustees and Chief Technical Officer at NAG said "dolfin-adjoint is an excellent piece of software that can solve problems in a range of application areas. Through its elegant use of high-level abstractions it makes performing what is usually a very challenging piece of computation seem extremely natural".

For more information visit the Wilkinson Prize webpage here.

Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG)

Wilkinson House

Jordan Hill


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The Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) is dedicated to applying its unique expertise in numerical engineering to delivering high-quality computational software and high performance computing services. For over 40 years NAG experts have worked closely with world-leading researchers in academia and industry to create powerful, reliable and flexible software which today is relied on by tens of thousands of individual users, as well as numerous independent software vendors. NAG serves its customers from offices in Oxford, Manchester, Chicago, Tokyo and Taipei, through staff in France and Germany, as well as via a global network of distributors.