Past Public Lecture

8 March 2018
Alain Goriely

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures

Can Mathematics Understand the Brain?' - Alain Goriely

The human brain is the object of the ultimate intellectual egocentrism. It is also a source of endless scientific problems and an organ of such complexity that it is not clear that a mathematical approach is even possible, despite many attempts. 

In this talk Alain will use the brain to showcase how applied mathematics thrives on such challenges. Through mathematical modelling, we will see how we can gain insight into how the brain acquires its convoluted shape and what happens during trauma. We will also consider the dramatic but fascinating progression of neuro-degenerative diseases, and, eventually, hope to learn a bit about who we are before it is too late. 

Alain Goriely is Professor of Mathematical Modelling, University of Oxford and author of 'Applied Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction.'

March 8th, 5.15 pm-6.15pm, Mathematical Institute, Oxford

Please email to register

28 February 2018
Robin Wilson - the Open University

Euler’s equation, the ‘most beautiful equation in mathematics’, startlingly connects the five most important constants in the subject: 1, 0, π, e and i. Central to both mathematics and physics, it has also featured in a criminal court case and on a postage stamp, and has appeared twice in The Simpsons. So what is this equation – and why is it pioneering?

Robin Wilson is an Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, Emeritus Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, and a former Fellow of Keble College, Oxford.

28 February 2018, 5pm-6pm, Mathematical Institute, Oxford

Please email to register


7 February 2018
Michael Bonsall

In this talk Michael Bonsall will explore how we can use mathematics to link between scales of organisation in biology. He will delve in to developmental biology, ecology and neurosciences, all illustrated and explored with real life examples, simple games and, of course, some neat maths.

Michael Bonsall is Professor of Mathematical Biology in Oxford.

7 February 2018, 5pm-6pm, Mathematical Institute, Oxford

Please email to register or watch online:

6 December 2017
Alex Bellos

In our Oxford Mathematics Christmas Lecture Alex Bellos challenges you with some festive brainteasers as he tells the story of mathematical puzzles from the middle ages to modern day. Alex is the Guardian’s puzzle blogger as well as the author of several works of popular maths, including Puzzle Ninja, Can You Solve My Problems? and Alex’s Adventures in Numberland.

Please email to register.


28 November 2017
Andrew Wiles

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Andrew Wiles, 28th November, 6.30pm, Science Museum, London SW7 2DD

Oxford Mathematics in partnership with the Science Museum is delighted to announce its first Public Lecture in London. World-renowned mathematician Andrew Wiles will be our speaker. Andrew will be talking about his current work and will also be 'in conversation' with mathematician and broadcaster Hannah Fry after the lecture.

This lecture is now sold out, but it will be streamed live and recorded.

13 November 2017
Allan McRobie

There is a deep connection between the stability of oil rigs, the bending of light during gravitational lensing and the act of life drawing. To understand each, we must understand how we view curved surfaces. We are familiar with the language of straight-line geometry – of squares, rectangles, hexagons - but curves also have a language – of folds, cusps and swallowtails - that few of us know.

Allan will explain how the key to understanding the language of curves is René Thom’s Catastrophe Theory, and how – remarkably – the best place to learn that language is perhaps in the life drawing class. Sharing its title with Allan's new book, the talk will wander gently across mathematics, physics, engineering, biology and art, but always with a focus on curves.

Warning: this talk contains nudity.

Allan McRobie is Reader in Engineering, University of Cambridge

Please email to register

1 November 2017

Can mathematics really help us in our fight against infectious disease? Join Julia Gog as we explore some exciting current research areas where mathematics is being used to study pandemics, viruses and everything in between, with a particular focus on influenza.

Julia Gog is Professor of Mathematical Biology, University of Cambridge and David N Moore Fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

Please email: to regsiter

27 October 2017
Stephen Hawking

In recognition of a lifetime's contribution across the mathematical sciences, we are initiating a series of annual Public Lectures in honour of Roger Penrose. The first lecture will be given by his long-time collaborator and friend Stephen Hawking.

Unfortunately the lecture is now sold out and we have a full waiting list. However, we will be podcasting the lecture live (and also via the University of Oxford Facebook page).

18 October 2017
Vicky Neale

Prime numbers have intrigued, inspired and infuriated mathematicians for millennia and yet mathematicians' difficulty with answering simple questions about them reveals their depth and subtlety. 

Join Vicky to learn about recent progress towards proving the famous Twin Primes Conjecture and to hear the very different ways in which these breakthroughs have been made - a solo mathematician working in isolation, a young mathematician displaying creativity at the start of a career, a large collaboration that reveals much about how mathematicians go about their work.  

Vicky Neale is Whitehead Lecturer at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Supernumerary Fellow at Balliol College.

Please email to register.

28 June 2017
Sanjeev Goyal

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures

The Law of the Few - Sanjeev Goyal

The study of networks offers a fruitful approach to understanding human behaviour. Sanjeev Goyal is one of its pioneers. In this lecture Sanjeev presents a puzzle:

In social communities, the vast majority of individuals get their information from a very small subset of the group – the influencers, connectors, and opinion leaders. But empirical research suggests that there are only minor differences between the influencers and the others. Using mathematical modelling of individual activity and networking and experiments with human subjects, Sanjeev helps explain the puzzle and the economic trade-offs it contains.

Professor Sanjeev Goyal FBA is the Chair of the Economics Faculty at the University of Cambridge and was the founding Director of the Cambridge-INET Institute.

28 June 2017, 5.00-6.00pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Mathematical Institute Oxford.

Please email to register