Roger Heath-Brown appointed OBE in 2024 New Year Honours List

Image of Roger

Oxford Mathematician Roger Heath-Brown has been been appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Mathematics and Mathematical Research in the 2024 New Year Honours List.

Roger Heath-Brown is one of the foremost analytic number theorists of his generation. His important works on prime numbers and related topics include, among many others:

- "Heath-Brown's identity", an important way of decomposing the primes into multilinear pieces, used in many other works such as Zhang's work on bounded gaps between primes

- There are infinitely many primes of the form x^3 + 2y^3 (currently the sparsest natural sequence where one can find primes)

- if a is coprime to q, there is always a prime a (mod q) of size < q to the power 5.5

- at least one of 2,3,5 is a primitive root modulo infinitely many primes.

His contributions to solving equations in integers and rationals include, for instance:

- every nonsingular cubic form in 10 variables has a rational point (and 10 is best possible)

- every cubic form in 14 variables has a rational point

- development of "the determinant method"

- breakthrough quantitative results on the number of rational points up to a given height

Roger Heath-Brown was educated at Cambridge (a student of Alan Baker) and moved to Oxford in 1979. He was made FRS in 1993, and was twice a speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians. He remained at Oxford throughout his career, first at Magdalen College and then, upon being promoted to a personal statutory professorship in 1999, at Worcester College. He retired in 2016. Among his many graduate students was James Maynard, who was awarded the Fields Medal in 2022.

Roger said: "Naturally I am thrilled to receive this honour. It is a reflection of the ever growing importance of mathematics in modern life. Indeed, I have been delighted to see the corresponding growth in the subject at Oxford over the past 40 years, and also within Number Theory - my own research area. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the friendship and support of my colleagues both at Oxford and across the globe. They have made my work a pleasure."

You can watch an interview with Roger by Ben Green on occasion of his retirement (a loose term for a mathematician) .

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 30 Dec 2023 - 10:17.

A puzzle for Christmas - the answer

James Munro in Christmas jumper

Here's the answer to yesterday's Christmas puzzle. If you missed it, you can find it here although James Munro recaps it in the answer video below.

In a roasted chestnutshell, it's a story of three kings bringing gifts (sound familiar?). However, they are not all telling the truth. Your job is to work out who is and who isn't telling the truth and what gifts they have really brought.

Not too taxing, easy to digest, just follow the star. Merry Christmas.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 25 Dec 2023 - 09:57.

A puzzle for Christmas

Opening shot of video - James Munro in Christmas jumper

Here's a Christmas puzzle for mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike. Especially non-mathematicians.

Three kings each arrive with a gift; one has brought gold, one has brought frankincense, and one has brought myrrh (and no-one has brought more than one gift).

The first king, Balthasar, says “I have brought gold.”

The second king, Caspar, says “I have not brought gold.”

The third king, Melchior, says “Caspar has not brought gold”.

Suddenly the angel Gabriel appears with the following divine intervention; “beware! One of the kings has brought myrrh and is lying. The king with frankincense is telling the truth...”

To find out more watch the video below. James Munro is our guy in the festive jumper. Answer tomorrow, same time, same place.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 24 Dec 2023 - 11:00.

85 student lectures free to air

Andy Wathen at the whiteboard

Over the past four years we have been making student lectures available to anyone who wants to take a peek at how we teach. You can now watch 85 lectures covering all four years of our undergraduate courses and including some whole courses. Geometry, calculus, number theory, topology, probability and much, much more: take your pick.

Andy Wathen is our guy at the whiteboard in our latest addition, the first lecture in the first year Linear Algebra course (video below). Many more to follow over the next few weeks.

The full playlist is here.

All first and second year lectures are followed by tutorials where students meet their tutor to go through the lecture and associated problem sheet and to talk and think more about the maths. Third and fourth year lectures are followed by classes.


Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 22 Dec 2023 - 15:34.

Conrad Shawcross exhibition extended

Image of Conrad and artwork

What was your highlight of 2023? 

Without doubt, Conrad Shawcross' exhibition of over 40 mathematically inspired artworks has been one of ours, not only attracting visitors to our building who would not otherwise visit a mathematics building, but also inspiring our mathematicians to think about their own field and work. A gallery of art in a gallery of minds.

So if it was a highlight in 2023 why not reprise in 2024? We are delighted that Conrad has agreed to extend the 'Cascading Principles' exhibition until the summer of 2024. You are all very welcome to visit as most of the works are publicly accessible. Please email @email to arrange a full tour (some of the items are in the private, working parts of the building).

You can read more about the exhibition here

And you can watch a series of four lectures focussed on the exhibition where artists and scientists compare notes on creativity.

The Conrad Shawcross exhibition is generously supported by XTX Markets.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 06 Dec 2023 - 16:06.

Oxford Mathematics merchandise now online


When we needed a design for our Oxford Mathematics merchandise, we thought we didn't have a badge or coat of arms. Until we realised we did. At the entrance to our building is the Penrose tiling, our mathematical coat of arms.

So our designers, the excellent Stephane Harrison and his team at William Joseph, came up with the idea of the exploding tiles. They have now become our unofficial logo (if you can have such a thing), on all our merchandise and materials.

You can now sample our Penrose-inspired swag, from hoodies and fleeces to caps and beanies. And its mathematical Black Friday from today until 27th November. You'll get 15% off by using the code: GREEN15.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 17 Nov 2023 - 10:50.

A Mathematical Journey through Literature - Sarah Hart

Banner for lecture

In this Oxford Mathematics Public Lecture, Sarah will explore the many connections between mathematics and literature. She'll show the hidden mathematical structures behind everything from poetry to novels, and reveal some of the beautiful mathematical imagery and symbolism in fiction, from simple fairy tales to classics like Moby-Dick. Her goal is to show that not only are mathematics and literature inextricably linked, but that understanding these links can enhance our enjoyment of both. 

Sarah Hart is the the Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, Professor of Mathematics at Birkbeck, University of London, and author of Once Upon a Prime: the Wondrous Connections between Mathematics and Literature.

Please email @email to register to attend in person.

The lecture will be broadcast on the Oxford Mathematics YouTube Channel on Thursday 14th December at 5pm and any time after (no need to register for the online version).

The Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures are generously supported by XTX Markets.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 08 Nov 2023 - 17:00.

Mathematics Admission Test (MAT) 2023 - update

Image of 'trees from MAT

The delivery of this year’s Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) has caused widespread distress and difficulties, most especially for the candidates themselves. The Oxford Mathematical Institute would like to apologise for this distress, and assure everyone that our priority is to ensure that no one is disadvantaged during the admissions process. We would also like to thank everyone who has provided feedback so far, whether via the special consideration forms or via email and social media.

We have decided on the following steps:

The Mathematical Institute will offer an additional test to candidates who submit a special consideration form after experiencing disruption when taking the MAT on 19 October, whether they applied to Oxford, Imperial or Warwick Universities.

The additional test will be optional; candidates are not required to take it if they are happy with how the MAT went for them on 19 October. For candidates who suffered disruption and wish to take the additional test, that test will supplement the information we already have.

On the 3 November, we will send out invitations for the additional test to all candidates who submitted a special consideration form, or who are identified as having experienced disruption, as well as to test centres where that disruption took place. We recognise that some candidates may not have access to information via schools or centres - we are doing all we can to identify them. 

The invitation will ask candidates to complete a simple form to register (by noon on Friday 10 November) for the optional additional test which will take place on Tuesday 14 November at 09:00 GMT. (Candidates in the USA for whom 09:00 will not work will be identified and contacted separately).

The additional test will comprise ten multiple-choice questions in the style of (and with the syllabus of) MAT Q1, and candidates will have one hour to complete the test.

Where possible, we would like the additional test to be hosted by schools or colleges; where necessary, remote invigilation will be arranged at home. The additional test will be made available to test centres (or candidates taking the test at home) for printing just before the start of the test on 14 November. The additional test will be administered entirely by the University. 

The Mathematical Institute is marking the MAT test as normal. The majority of candidates experienced no disruption – we do not want to disadvantage those candidates. College tutors (who are responsible for shortlisting) will have access to a candidate’s UCAS form, the results of the MAT test taken on 19 October, and the results of the additional test, if taken, as well special consideration forms. Tutors will take all this information into consideration when deciding whether to shortlist a candidateOxford Mathematics will liaise closely with colleges to manage the situation.

Once again, we apologise for all the disruption. We are doing all we can to make sure all candidates have an opportunity to display their full potential, and no one is disadvantaged.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 27 Oct 2023 - 00:07.

The Vicky Neale Celebration

Photo of Vicky

Oxford Mathematics and Balliol College will be hosting an afternoon to celebrate the life and contributions of Vicky Neale who died in May of this year.

November 11, 2023, 14.00–16.30
Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Woodstock Road, OX2 6GG

If you would like to join us, please register here

You can leave your memories of Vicky here.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 26 Oct 2023 - 13:58.

Does Life know about quantum mechanics? - Jim Al-Khalili

Poster for lecture

Physicists and chemists are used to dealing with quantum mechanics, but biologists have thus far got away without having to worry about this strange yet powerful theory of the subatomic world. However, times are changing as Jim Khalili describes in this Oxford Mathematics Roger Penrose Public Lecture.

There is now solid evidence that enzymes use quantum tunnelling to accelerate chemical reactions, while plants and bacteria use a quantum trick in photosynthesis – sending lumps of sunlight energy in multiple directions at once. It even appears that some animals have the ability to use quantum entanglement – what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” – as a compass to ‘see’ the earth’s magnetic field. In our research at the University of Surrey we are discovering that life may even have evolved mechanisms to control genetic mutations caused by quantum tunnelling of protons between strands of DNA. Welcome to the exciting new field of quantum biology.

Jim Al-Khalili CBE FRS is an academic, author and broadcaster. He holds a Distinguished Chair in Theoretical Physics at the University of Surrey where he conducts research in quantum physics. He has written fifteen books on popular science, between them translated into over twenty-six languages. He is a regular presenter of TV science documentaries and the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme, The Life Scientific.

Please email @email to register to attend in person.

The lecture will be broadcast on the Oxford Mathematics YouTube Channel on Wednesday 15 November at 5pm and any time after (no need to register for the online version).

The Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures are generously supported by XTX Markets.

Please contact us with feedback and comments about this page. Created on 16 Oct 2023 - 16:56.