In 1953 he was appointed Professor of Applied Mathematics at Nottingham University. His 1950 The Mathematical Theory of Plasticity forms the foundation of plasticity theory. Hill is widely regarded as among the foremost contributors to the foundations of solid mechanics over the second half of the 20th century. His early work was central to founding the mathematical theory of plasticity. This deep interest led eventually to general studies of uniqueness and stability in nonlinear continuum mechanics, work which has had a profound influence on the field of solid mechanics—theoretical, computational and experimental alike—over the past decades. Hill was the founding editor of the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, still among the principal journals in the field.
His work is recognized worldwide for its concise style of presentation and exemplary standards of scholarship. Publisher Elsevier, in collaboration with IUTAM, established a quadrennial award in the field of solid mechanics, known as the Rodney Hill Prize, first presented at ICTAM in Adelaide in August 2008. The prize consists of a plaque and a cheque for US$25,000. Its first recipient is Michael Ortiz, for his contribution to nonconvex plasticity and deformation microstructures (California Institute of Technology, USA).
He won the Royal Medal in 1993 for his contribution to the theoretical mechanics of soil and the plasticity of solids. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1961. He was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath in 1978.
He died on 2 February 2011.
- Hill R., The Mathematical Theory of Plasticity, Oxford University Press, 1950.
- "Obituaries: Professor Rodney Hill". The Telegraph. 8 March 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "ICTAM 2008". Retrieved 2008-12-18.
- "Rodney Hill Prize for Solid Mechanics (pdf) –". Retrieved 2008-12-18.
- "Royal Medal Winners: 2007 – 1990". Retrieved 2008-12-06.
- "Fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
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