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 acepted 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.

2002 Madhu SUDAN
1998 Peter W. Shor
1994 Avi Widgerson
1990 A.A. Razborov
1986 Leslie Valiant
1982 Robert Tarjan