2010 Jones Medal Winner Professor Emeritus John Butcher

Jones Medal (front)

Jones Medal – a mathematical sciences award for lifetime achievement: awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand to Professor Emeritus John Butcher FRSNZ of The University of Auckland


Awarded to John Charles Butcher for his exceptional lifetime work on numerical methods for the solution of differential equations and leadership in the development of New Zealand mathematical sciences.

Description of work

John ButcherOver the past half century, Professor John Butcher has established himself, not only as one of the most internationally acclaimed New Zealand mathematicians, but also as one of the most important leaders of mathematics within New Zealand.

His research on numerical methods for solving differential equations is regarded as some of the best work ever done in this area, and has stood at the forefront of international research for more than 45 years. Professor Butcher is regarded as the founder of the modern theory of Runge-Kutta methods, one of the principal classes of numerical methods for solving ordinary differential equations.

His research has earned him a wide range of top international prizes, including the prestigious Fellowship of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (the only New Zealander holding this fellowship; the Hector Medal in 1996 from the Royal Society of New Zealand; and the New Zealand Mathematical Society’s Research Award when it was offered for the first time in 1991. In February 2011 he will be presented with the Van Wijngaarden Prize for mathematics. The prize is awarded every five years by the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in the Netherlands and is named after the late Adriaan van Wijngaarden, a pioneer in numerical analysis and computer science.

Professor Butcher was the first supervisor of a full-time PhD student in mathematics at The University of Auckland and has subsequently supervised many other PhD students, many of whom hold prestigious positions worldwide. Professor Butcher was a founding member of the New Zealand Mathematical Society, and its second president, and was the first editor of the ‘Mathematical Chronicle’, the journal which later became the ‘NZ Journal of Mathematics’. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1980.

  • See also the separate news release on the Jones Medal for full details of the new award, quotes from Professor Sir Vaughan Jones and from medal designer Marion Fountain.