Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Mathematics

Senior Lecturer in Numerical Analysis/Scientific Computing



+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 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 the Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the Department of Mathematics, the co-Director of Studies 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. I supervise 2 PhD students and 2 postdoctoral research associates.

If you are a student looking to do a PhD with me, please take a look at the following opportunities:

  • Projects in numerical methods for atmosphere/ocean/climate and in data assimilation through the Mathematics of Planet Earth Centre for Doctoral Training
  • I have a studentship available via the Grantham Institute in dynamics/physics coupling in weather/climate models, in collaboration with the UK Met Office.
  • I have a Roth Studentship available for an excellent student, in the area of numerical methods for image registration.

Unfortunately these studentships are only available for students with UK/EU fee status. Please contact me by email for more information.


  • Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, November 2013 to date
  • 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. I also keep a blog 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, ISSN:0021-9991, 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, 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, Proc. R. Soc. A, Vol:469

Cotter C, 2013, Data assimilation on the exponentially accurate slow manifold, Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions A. Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol:371, ISSN:1364-503X

Cotter CJ, Cotter SL, Vialard F-X, 2013, Bayesian data assimilation in shape registration, Inverse Problems, Vol:29, ISSN:0266-5611

Cotter CJ, Holm DD, 2013, On Noether's Theorem for the Euler-Poincar, Equation on the Diffeomorphism Group with Advected Quantities, Foundations of Computational Mathematics, Vol:13, ISSN:1615-3375, Pages:457-477


Cotter CJ, Clark A, Peiro J, 2012, A Reparameterisation Based Approach to Geodesic Constrained Solvers for Curve Matching, International Journal of Computer Vision, Vol:99, ISSN:0920-5691, Pages:103-121

Cotter CJ, Shipton J, 2012, Mixed finite elements for numerical weather prediction, Journal of Computational Physics, Vol:231, ISSN:0021-9991, Pages:7076-7091

Cotter CJ, Ham DA, 2011, Numerical wave propagation for the triangular P1(DG)-P2 finite element pair, Journal of Computational Physics, Vol:230, ISSN:0021-9991, Pages:2806-2820

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, Journal of Geometric Mechanics, Vol:2, ISSN:1941-4889, Pages:51-68

More Publications