Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures enable anyone with an interest in the subject to see the best mathematicians in action and to share their pleasure (and occasional pain). They are aimed at the General Public, schools and anyone who just wants to come along and hear a bit more about what maths is really about. For booking please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk (the Roger Penrose lecture in September in Oxford is not yet open for registration).

If you can't be here in person you can always view online. All our lectures are now broadcast live (details in each abtsract close to the lecture day) and on Facebook Live via The University of Oxford Facebook page, as well as being recorded for future viewing. 

Jump down to Public Lectures and interviews online.

You can view and download posters from previous events.

24 April 2018

The Simonyi Lecture is an annual lecture under the auspices of the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus du Sautoy. It is not part of the Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures series but its themes and topics touch not only on mathematics but the wider natural sciences and beyond. All are very welcome and there is no need to register.


In this year’s Simonyi Lecture Geoffrey West discusses universal laws that govern everything from growth to mortality in plants, animals, cities and companies. These remarkable laws originate in the networks that sustain life from circulatory to social systems and help us address big, urgent questions from population explosion, urbanization, lifespan and cancer, to the accelerating pace of life and global sustainability. Why do we stop growing and live about 100 years rather than 1000, or just two like mice? Why do we sleep eight hours a day and not three like elephants? Why do all companies and people die whereas cities keep growing? How are these related to innovation, wealth creation, and “singularities”? And is any of this sustainable? 

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, biology and social organizations  West is a distinguished professor at the Sante Fe Institute, where he served as the president from 2004-2008. He is author of the recent best-selling book 'Scale'.



17 May 2018
Michael Atiyah

Archimedes, who famously jumped out of his bath shouting "Eureka", also invented $\pi$. 

Euler invented $e$ and had fun with his formula $e^{2\pi i} = 1$

The world is full of important numbers waiting to be invented. Why not have a go ?

Michael Atiyah is one of the world's foremost mathematicians and a pivotal figure in twentieth and twenty-first century mathematics. His lecture will be followed by an interview with Sir John Ball, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy here in Oxford where Michael will talk about his lecture, his work and his life as a mathematician.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

26 June 2018
Richard James

The World population is growing at about 80 million per year.  As time goes by, there is necessarily less space per person. Perhaps this is why the scientific community seems to be obsessed with folding things.  In this lecture Dick James presents a mathematical approach to “rigid folding” inspired by the way atomistic structures form naturally - their features at a molecular level imply desirable features for macroscopic structures as well, especially 4D structures.  Origami structures even suggest an unusual way to look at the Periodic Table.

Richard D. James is Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

5 September 2018
Persi Diaconis

Persi Diaconis is world-renowned for his study of mathematical problems involving randomness and randomisation, notably coin flipping and the shuffling of playing cards. He is the co-author of 'Ten Great Ideas about Chance (2017)' and his Public Lecture will be based on the book.

Persi is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University. 

24 September 2018
Roger Penrose

Roger Penrose's work has ranged across many aspects of mathematics and its applications from his influential work on gravitational collapse to his work in quantum gravity via twistor theory.

However, Roger has long had an interest in and influence on the visual arts and its connections with mathematics, most notably in his relationship with Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. In this lecture he will use Escher's work to introduce and connect mathematics to a wider public.

Oxford Mathematics is pleased to host this lecture in partnership with the Clay Mathematics Institute during their Annual Conference. After the lecture Roger will be presented with the Clay Award for the Dissemination of Mathematical Knowledge.

More details on how to register will follow later in the year.

15 November 2018
Michael Berry

Sir Michael Berry is a mathematical physicist at the University of Bristol specialising in semiclassical physics. His interests span a wide range of areas and, in his own words, a particular "source of delight is uncovering down-to-earth or dramatic and sometimes beautiful examples of abstract mathematical ideas: the arcane in the mundane.

More details to follow.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register

12 December 2018
Hannah Fry - University College of London

Dr Hannah Fry is a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL. She works alongside a unique mix of physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, architects and geographers to study the patterns in human behaviour - particularly in an urban setting. Her research applies to a wide range of social problems and questions, from shopping and transport to urban crime, riots and terrorism.

Hannah is also a well-respected broadcaster and the author of several books including 'The Mathematics of Love' and, most recently, 'The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus.'

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

Public Lectures Online

Can Mathematics Understand the Brain? - Alain Goriely

Euler’s pioneering equation: ‘the most beautiful theorem in mathematics’ - Robin Wilson

Scaling the Maths of Life - Michael Bonsall

Can Yule solve my problems - Alex Bellos

Andrew Wiles London Public Lecture

The Seduction of Curves: The Lines of Beauty that Connect Mathematics, Art and the Nude - Allan McRobie

Maths v Disease - Julia Gog

Closing the Gap: the quest to understand prime numbers - Vicky Neale

The Law of the Few - Sanjeev Goyal 

The Sound of Symmetry and the Symmetry of Sound - Marcus du Sautoy 

The Butterfly Effect - What Does It Really Signify - Tim Palmer

Why the truth matters - Tim Harford

The Mathematics of Visual Illusions - Ian Stewart

How can we understand our complex economy - Doyne Farmer

Fashion, Faith and Fantasy - Roger Penrose

Modelling genes: the backwards and forwards of mathematical population genetics - Alsion Etheridge

What We Cannot Know - Marcus du Sautoy

The Travelling Santa Problem and Other Seasonal Challenges - Marcus du Sautoy

Symmetry, Spaces and Undecidability - Martin Bridson

M.C. Escher: Artist, Mathematician, Man - Roger Penrose and Jon Chapman

Dancing VorticesÉtienne Ghys

The Gömböc, the Turtle and the Evolution of Shape Professor Gábor Domokos

Birth of an Idea: A Mathematical Adventure - Professor Cédric Villani

The History of Mathematics in 300 Stamps - Professor Robin Wilson

What Maths Really Does - Professor Alain Goriely

Forbidden Crystal Symmetry - Sir Roger Penrose

Big Data's Big Deal - Professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger

Love and Math - Professor Edward Frenkel

Why there are no three-headed monsters, resolving some problems with brain tumours, divorce prediction and how to save marriages - Professor James D Murray

The Irrational, the chaotic and incomplete: the mathematical limits of knowledge - Professor Marcus du Sautoy

The Secret Mathematicians: the connections between maths and the arts - Professor Marcus du Sautoy

Symmetry: a talk based on his second book, 'Finding Moonshine'  - Professor Marcus du Sautoy

The Music of the Primes: a talk about the Riemann Hypothesis and primes - Professor Marcus du Sautoy

Interviews with Mathematicians

Nigel Hitchin reflects with Martin Bridson


Roger Heath-Brown in conversation with Ben Green


Roger Penrose interviewed by Andrew Hodges – part one


Roger Penrose interviewed by Andrew Hodges – part two


Michael Atiyah interviewed by Paul Tod


Jim Murray interviewed by Philip Maini


Bryce McLeod Interviewed by John Ball