Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Mathematics

Professor of Computational Mathematics



+44 (0)20 7594 3468colin.cotter




755Huxley BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





My research in numerical analysis and scientific computing focusses on the design, analysis and implementation of numerical methods for weather forecasting, ocean modelling and climate simulation. Recently, I have been developing compatible finite element methods and time parallel algorithms for these applications. I am motivated by the geometric variational structure of fluid equations, which are also relevant for algorithms for exploring the geometric structure of shapes and images. I also develop numerical algorithms for probabilistic forecasting and data assimilation.

I am co-Director for the Mathematics of Planet Earth Centre for Doctoral Training, and a co-Investigator for the Platform for Research in Simulation Methods. I am also an Associate Editor for the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society and the Foundations of Data Science, and a member of the EPSRC peer review college. I supervise 3 PhD students and 3 postdoctoral research associates.

I have a PhD project available for funding from the SSCP DTP at Imperial College, advert here.


  • Reader in Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing, Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, July 2016 - date
  • Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, November 2013 to July 2016
  • Senior Lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London 2010-2013
  • Lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London 2006-2010
  • Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London 2005-2006
  • Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London 2004-2005
  • PhD Mathematics, Imperial College London 2000-2004
  • Part III, Mathematics, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University 1999-2000
  • BA Mathematics, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University 1996-1999

    My Google Scholar profile is here. Preprints of many of my papers can be found here.

    Selected Publications

    Journal Articles

    Cotter CJ, Thuburn J, 2014, A finite element exterior calculus framework for the rotating shallow-water equations, Journal of Computational Physics, Vol:257, Pages:1506-1526

    Visram AR, Cotter CJ, Cullen MJP, 2014, A framework for evaluating model error using asymptotic convergence in the Eady model, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, ISSN:0035-9009, Pages:n/a-n/a

    McRae ATT, Cotter CJ, McRae ATT, et al., 2014, Energy- and enstrophy-conserving schemes for the shallow-water equations, based on mimetic finite elements, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

    Cotter CJ, Holm DD, 2013, A variational formulation of vertical slice models, Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences, Vol:469, ISSN:1364-5021

    Cotter CJ, 2013, Data assimilation on the exponentially accurate slow manifold, Journal: Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol:371

    Cotter CJ, Cotter SL, Vialard FX, 2013, Bayesian data assimilation in shape registration, Inverse Problems in Science and Engineering, Vol:29

    Cotter CJ, Holm DD, 2012, On Noether's Theorem for the Euler-Poincaré equation on the diffeomorphism group with advected quantities, Foundations of Computational Mathematics, ISSN:1615-3375

    Clark A, Peiró J, Cotter CJ, et al., 2012, A reparameterisation based approach to geodesic constrained solvers for curve matching, International Journal of Computer Vision

    Cotter CJ, Shipton J, 2012, Mixed finite elements for numerical weather prediction, J. Comp. Phys.

    Thuburn J, Cotter CJ, 2012, A framework for mimetic discretization of the rotating shallow-water equations on arbitrary polygonal grids, Siam Journal on Scientific Computing

    Cotter CJ, Ham DA, 2011, Numerical wave propagation for the triangular P1DG-P2 finite element pair, Journal of Computational Physics

    Cotter C, Bokhove O, 2010, Variational water-wave model with accurate dispersion and vertical vorticity, Journal of Engineering Mathematics, Vol:67, ISSN:0022-0833, Pages:33-54

    Cotter CJ, Holm DD, 2010, Geodesic boundary value problems with symmetry, J. Geom. Mech., Vol:2, Pages:51-68

    More Publications