Rod Downey


Rodney Graham Downey (born 20 September 1957)[1] is a New Zealand and Australian mathematician and computer scientist,[2] a professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.[3] He is known for his work in mathematical logic and computational complexity theory, and in particular for founding the field of parameterised complexity together with Michael Fellows.


Rod Downey

Rod Downey.jpg
Born (1957-09-20) 20 September 1957 (age 64)
NationalityNew Zealander, Australian
OccupationProfessor of Mathematics, Victoria University of Wellington
Known forComputability theory, incl. parameterised complexity
AwardsRSNZ Hector Medal and Rutherford Medal
Academic background
Alma materMonash (PhD 1982)
Queensland (BSc 1978)
Doctoral advisorJohn Crossley


Downey earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Queensland in 1978, and then went on to graduate school at Monash University, earning a doctorate in 1982 under the supervision of John Crossley.[1][3][4] After holding teaching and visiting positions at the Chisholm Institute of Technology, Western Illinois University, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he came to New Zealand in 1986 as a lecturer at Victoria University. He was promoted to reader in 1991, and was given a personal chair at Victoria in 1995.[1][2]

Downey was president of the New Zealand Mathematical Society from 2001 to 2003.[1][5]


Downey is the co-author of five books:

  • Parameterized Complexity (with Michael Fellows, Springer, 1999)
  • Algorithmic Randomness and Complexity (with D. Hirschfeldt, Springer, 2010)
  • Fundamentals of Parameterized Complexity (with Michael Fellows, Springer, 2013)
  • Minimal Weak Truth Table Degrees and Computably Enumerable Turing Degrees (with Keng Meng Ng and David Reed Solomon, Memoirs American Mathematical Society, Vol. 2184, 2020)
  • A Hierarchy of Turing Degrees (with Noam Greenberg, Annals of Mathematics Studies No. 206, Princeton University Press, 2020)

He is also the author or co-author of over 200 research papers,[1][6] including a highly cited sequence of four papers with Michael Fellows and Karl Abrahamson setting the foundation for the study of parameterised complexity.[7]

Awards and honoursEdit

In 1990, Downey won the Hamilton Research Award from the Royal Society of New Zealand.[8] In 1992 Downey won the Research Award of the New Zealand Mathematical Society "for penetrating and prolific investigations that have made him a leading expert in many aspects of recursion theory, effective algebra and complexity".[9]

In 1994, he won the New Zealand Association of Scientists Research Award, and became a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1996.[1][10] In 2006, he became the first New Zealand-based mathematician to give an Invited Lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians.

He has also given invited lectures at the International Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and the ACM Conference on Computational Complexity. He was elected as an ACM Fellow in 2007 "for contributions to computability and complexity theory", becoming the second ACM Fellow in New Zealand,[11][12] and in the same year was elected as a fellow of the New Zealand Mathematical Society.[1]

In 2010 he won the Shoenfield Prize (for articles) of the Association for Symbolic Logic for his work with Denis Hirschfeldt, Andre Nies, and Sebastiaan Terwijn on randomness.[13] In 2011 the Royal Society of New Zealand gave him their Hector Medal "for his outstanding, internationally acclaimed work in recursion theory, computational complexity, and other aspects of mathematical logic and combinatorics."[14][15] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[16] In 2013, he became a Fellow of the Australian Mathematical Society.

In 2014, he was awarded the Nerode Prize from the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science, jointly with Hans Bodlaender, Michael Fellows, Danny Hermelin, Lance Fortnow and Rahul Santhanam for their work on kernelization lower bounds. In October 2016, Downey received a distinguished Humboldt Research Award for his academic contributions.

With Denis Hirschfeldt, Downey won another Shoenfield Prize from the Association for Symbolic Logic, this time the 2016 book prize for Algorithmic Randomness and Complexity. In 2018, Downey delivered the Goedel Lecture of the Association for Symbolic Logic in the European Summer Meeting at Udine, Italy. In 2018, Downey was awarded the Rutherford Medal, the highest honour awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand, "for his pre-eminent revolutionary research into computability, including development of the theory of parameterised complexity and the algorithmic study of randomness."[17] The same year, he held the Gödel Lecture titled Algorithmic randomness.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Curriculum vitae, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b Whittle, Geoff (August 2004), "Centrefold: Rod Downey" (PDF), Newsletter of the New Zealand Mathematical Society, 91.
  3. ^ a b Faculty profile, Victoria University of Wellington, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  4. ^ Rodney Graham Downey at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Downey, Rod (April 2003), "President's report 2001–2002" (PDF), Newsletter of the New Zealand Mathematical Society, 87: 4–6.
  6. ^ Listing of Downey's computer science publications in DBLP.
  7. ^ Downey, Rod G.; Fellows, Michael R. (1995), "Fixed-parameter tractability and completeness. I. Basic results", SIAM Journal on Computing, 24 (4): 873–921, CiteSeerX, doi:10.1137/S0097539792228228, MR 1342997. Downey, Rod G.; Fellows, Michael R. (1995), "Fixed-parameter tractability and completeness. II. On completeness for W[1]", Theoretical Computer Science, 141 (1–2): 109–131, doi:10.1016/0304-3975(94)00097-3, MR 1323150. Downey, Rod; Fellows, Michael (1993), "Fixed-parameter tractability and completeness. III. Some structural aspects of the W hierarchy", Complexity theory, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, pp. 191–225, MR 1255345. Abrahamson, Karl A.; Downey, Rodney G.; Fellows, Michael R. (1995), "Fixed-parameter tractability and completeness. IV. On completeness for W[P] and PSPACE analogues", Annals of Pure and Applied Logic, 73 (3): 235–276, doi:10.1016/0168-0072(94)00034-Z, MR 1336643.
  8. ^ "Recipients".
  9. ^ Awards
  10. ^ List of Current Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  11. ^ ACM Fellow award citation, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  12. ^ Professor Downey Becomes ACM Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington, 6 December 2007, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  13. ^ Shoenfield Prize Recipients, Association for Symbolic Logic, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  14. ^ Hector Medal to Rod Downey, New Zealand Mathematical Society, 16 November 2011, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  15. ^ Medals awarded to top New Zealand researchers, RSNZ, 17 November 2011, retrieved 19 February 2012.
  16. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 10 November 2012.
  17. ^ 2018 Rutherford Medal: Solving ‘Can’t compute’ and is that random sequence really random?

External linksEdit

  • Home page at Victoria University of Wellington