Thu, 24 Mar 2022

Jonathan Pila awarded Rolf Schock Prize in Mathematics

Jonathan Pila

Oxford Mathematician Jonathan Pila has been awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in Mathematics for his groundbreaking work on André-Oort's conjecture.

The André–Oort conjecture is a problem in Diophantine geometry, a branch of number theory. In 2011, Jonathan gave an unconditional proof of the André–Oort conjecture in the case of arbitrary products of modular curves, using the Pila-Wilkie point-counting theorem based on the theory of o-minimality. This was the first unconditional case of the conjecture beyond André's 1998 result for products of two modular curves. Over the subsequent decade, the strategy was implemented in general, in the work of many people, with a full proof of the conjecture announced in 2021 by Pila-Shankar-Tsimerman.

Jonathan Pila is Reader in Mathematical Logic and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Born in Melbourne, he received his PhD from Stanford University in 1988 under the supervision of Peter Sarnak. He held posts at Columbia University, McGill University, and the University of Bristol, as well as visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. 

The Rolf Schock Prizes were established and endowed by bequest of philosopher and artist Rolf Schock (1933–1986). There are prizes in Logic and Philosophy, Mathematics, Visual Arts and Musical Arts. They are decided by the respective Swedish Academies.

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Thu, 17 Mar 2022

Mathematical Sciences for Refugees and Asylum and Sanctuary Seekers

Video conference with David Levy, Ian Griffiths, Sam Cohen and Pete Grindrod

Among the many asylum and sanctuary seekers and academics seeking refuge are mathematicians and statisticians; they are part of the global mathematical sciences community. However, when they come to the UK they may be unable to work and so feel isolated from the subject they love. They are in personal and intellectual limbo.

Concerned and inspired by this predicament, a group of mathematicians at Oxford university decided to find ways to help these refugees overcome that sense of isolation and make them aware of mathematical science-based activities in the UK, both in research and teaching, and industry. The aim was for them to re-establish an emotional contact with their own mathematical pedigrees and their own identities as qualified mathematicians for however long they remain isolated; and ultimately to enable them to contribute to the social and economic growth of the UK.

What we are doing
The vehicle for doing this was occasional informal online sessions. Initially the team partnered in 2021 with the Oxford charity Asylum Welcome to run two pilot Zoom sessions for mathematically qualified or maths-literate refugees and asylum seekers in the Oxford area. The target audience was people with some degree-level maths or maths related subjects who can find value in presentations and discussions about what is going on within various areas of mathematical sciences.

This initiative built on work elsewhere in Oxford to support asylum seekers and refugees, and in particular Mansfield and Somerville Colleges becoming University Colleges of Sanctuary.  Content from Oxford Mathematics Professors Pete Grindrod, Ian Griffiths and Sam Cohen covered a range of mathematical research fields, as well as information about the wider UK mathematical community and some specifics of how people seeking refuge might pursue maths-based careers in the UK, including in data science and statistics, different industry sectors, education and teaching.

The National plan
The project is partnering with the Universities of Sanctuary initiative and Cara (the Council for At-Risk Academics) to identify suitable people and open the sessions to them wherever they may be in the UK. The first more national session was held on 28th February with two more to follow in the Summer. In February we covered topics such as “Opportunities for maths based scientists with UK Corporates”, “Resources to learn about Data Science” and “Industrial applications of Maths Skills”.  Judging by the feedback from participants there is real interest and demand; we will use comments we have received to inform the design of future sessions.

How to sign up
If you are a refugee, asylum seeker or academic seeking refuge with a good proficiency (upper intermediate) in conversational English and a maths, or maths-related degree including subjects such as physics, engineering, statistics or computer science, and would like to attend these sessions, please e-mail @email  We will then ask you to fill in a short form with a view to registering you for future sessions.

Looking to the future
Oxford Mathematics believes its initiative may well be a first for the UK mathematical sciences community and we aim expand it in time, to include the UK’s professional and learned societies, and involve mathematicians from other Higher Education Institutions. We hope that through working together with Cara and the Universities of Sanctuary initiative other disciplines may well follow suit and adopt this outreach model.

You can watch those involved in the scheme talk about its genesis, progress and possibilities in the video below. If you want to know more or get involved, please email: @email

Please contact us for feedback and comments about this page. Created on 17 Mar 2022 - 10:00.
Thu, 10 Mar 2022

Bach, the Universe & Everything - The Mathematics of Decisions

The Mathematics of Decisions Poster

Oxford Mathematics in partnership with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Bach, the Universe & Everything

The Mathematics of Decisions
Sunday 20 March, 5:30-6.30pm
Mathematical Institute, OX2 6GG

The Science:
In this talk, Oxford Mathematics's Samuel Cohen asks: how do you make decisions today when you know things will change tomorrow?

The Music:
JS Bach: Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen (Dearest Jesus, my Desire, BWV 32)
This Cantata is in the form of a dialogue. It reminds us of what we have lost and what we can find.  

JS Bach: Prelude, Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele (BWV Anh. II 52)
William Byrd: Christe qui lux es et dies
Tomaso Albinoni: Adagio from Oboe Concerto Op 9 No. 2

Tickets £15: Buy tickets here

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Thu, 03 Mar 2022

In-person Open Days are back

See you in Oxford - Undergraduate Open Days Poster

A long, long time ago aspiring students came to Oxford Mathematics Open Days to not only sample the maths, but to absorb the sights & sounds of Oxford. Then a virus visited.

Those days are back. We are pleased to announce that University of Oxford Open Days in 2022 will once again be in person and for Oxford Mathematics they start with our double-header on 23 and 30 April.

To find out more about the days and to register for specifics sessions please click here. If you can't make it, an archive of 2021 Open Days, held online, is also available on the page.

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Sun, 27 Feb 2022

Deep Maths - machine learning and mathematics

Oxford Mathematics Public Lecture: Deep Maths - machine learning and mathematics.

In December 2021 mathematicians at Oxford and Sydney universities together with their collaborators at DeepMind announced that they had successfully used tools from machine learning to discover new patterns in mathematics. But what exactly had they done and what are its implications for the future of mathematics and mathematicians?

This online event features short talks from each of the four collaborators explaining their work followed by a panel discussion addressing its wider implications. 

The speakers:
Alex Davies - DeepMind
Andras Juhasz - University of Oxford
Marc Lackenby - University of Oxford
Geordie Williamson - University of Sydney

The panel was chaired by Jon Keating, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy in Oxford.

This lecture was premiered on 17th March and is now free to watch whenever and wherever you are.

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

Please contact us for feedback and comments about this page. Created on 27 Feb 2022 - 10:35.
Thu, 03 Feb 2022

Bach, the Universe & Everything - Can you hear the shape of a drum?

Music and mathematics are, of course, close collaborators, indeed close friends.

Bach, the Universe and Everything is a partnership between Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Oxford Mathematics where the music of J.S. Bach's time joins forces with the science of today. They are perhaps best described as a secular service, lasting about an hour and including a Bach cantata, a reading and a talk by an Oxford Mathematician/scientist. In addition the audience - or should we say congregation - gets to sing (though not in this edit you'll be relieved to hear).

You can now watch the first one in the season below. Jon Chapman asks if we can hear the shape of a drum, Walt Whitman provides poetical advice and Bach, Telemann and William Byrd offer musical consolation. Keep an eye on our Public Events listing on our website home page for upcoming services.


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Tue, 01 Feb 2022

Sir David Cox 1924 – 2022

We received the news of the loss of Sir David Cox on 18 January 2022 with great sadness. For many in the Mathematical Institute and Department of Statistics (of which he was a member), the loss is personal as well as professional.

David (for he very much preferred that ‘Sir’ was not used) made many contributions of great importance to the discipline of statistics as well as, in his view more importantly, of great importance to other areas of sciences. The Cox proportional hazards model, which being David he never called it, is widely used to identify risk factors that increase or decrease the risk of ‘survival’ in many settings well beyond the field of medicine. Later this year it will be 50 years since his landmark paper introducing the proportional hazards model. David had actively contributed to plans to mark this occasion. His presence will be sorely missed.

His gentle kindness was as much one of his superpowers as his great intellect. David has collaborated with and mentored generations of statisticians, in many cases for decades. At the same time he wrote dozens of books and he continued to supervise research students.

David moved to Oxford in 1988 when he served as Warden of Nuffield College until 1994. He will be greatly missed by people around the world, not least in Oxford. Information about a memorial service will be provided in due course.

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Sun, 23 Jan 2022

First day of term

Last week saw the beginning of the new term (or Hilary as it is called in Oxford). And with it, came the return to normality, or at least the return to full in-person lectures for students, especially first and second years whose lectures were nearly all online last term. Masks had still to be worn but we were back to the model of a fixed-time, a lecturer, a whiteboard and lots of pens (marker and biro).

But are they preferable to the online version? It's a big question and here is not the place to give an answer (even if we had an answer just yet, or one with which everyone agreed). Instead here are some thoughts from first-year Oxford Mathematics and Christ Church College student Lucy Wang as part of her short film about her first day of term. Linear Algebra, coffee,  companionship and comfort food; and some interesting thoughts about the online-offline conundrum. She'll be back with more.

P. S. 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.

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Wed, 19 Jan 2022

Music and drama in the Andrew Wiles Building - the Castalian String Quartet and a new play by Marcus du Sautoy

The Andrew Wiles Building, home to Oxford Mathematics, is very much a public venue and a space for creativity, mathematical and beyond. Over the last eight years we have hosted art exhibitions, music and drama and that spirit continues with two performances in the next month.

First, on 2 February, as part of our partnership with the Faculty of Music in Oxford, we are delighted to welcome the Castalian String Quartet. The Quartet holds the Hans Keller String Quartet Residency at the Faculty of Music for the academic years 2021-24. And later, on February 17-19, we are excited to be hosting the premiere of a new play by Marcus du Sautoy.

The Castalian String Quartet

Mozart - String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K. 421

Fanny Mendelssohn - String Quartet in E flat major


Felix Mendelssohn – String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80

The Castalian String Quartet presents a programme of three string quartets from Viennese composers. Starting with one of Mozart's quartet tributes to Haydn, his String Quartet No. 15 in D minor; this is followed by one of the earliest known string quartets written by a woman composer, Fanny Mendelssohn's String Quartet in E flat major; and ending with Felix Mendelssohn’s final String Quartet, his last major work, powerful and tempestuous.

The concert will be preceded by a talk by Dr Sebastian Wedler at 6.30pm. The concert will start at 7.30pm.

Mathematical Institute, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG.

Tickets £15, free entry for all under 21s.

Book tickets here.

The Axiom of Choice by Marcus du Sautoy

From the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University comes a ground-breaking new play: The Axiom of Choice.

Join eminent mathematician Andre Weil and his fictional creation Bourbaki, on their journey from zero via France, India and Finland to the edge of infinity, as they try to make sense of whether we really have free will or if our choices are pre-determined. 

Imprisoned in Rouen during the Second World War, our hero, Weil, faces a choice that will determine his fate. And yet his final decision just doesn’t make sense. Bourbaki are here to solve this equation, recreate their creator and offer a proof to the problem. Life, they believe, is like a mathematical theorem made up of interconnected logical strands. But does a life always add up?

Written & Directed by Marcus du Sautoy 
Co-Directed by Lu Curtis
Produced by Claire Gilbert Ltd. 
Supported by Dangor Education, Stage One Bursary Scheme for New Producers & Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences

Thursday 17 February 7.30pm
Friday 18 February 7.30pm + Post Show discussion 
Saturday 19 February 2pm & 7.30pm 
Tickets: £10 
Concessions: £5
Mathematical Institute, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG

60 minutes, no interval. Book your tickets here

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Wed, 12 Jan 2022

Oxford Online Maths Club - Season 3

What do you need to join the Oxford Online Maths Club?

Nothing, except a little curiosity. We're live at 5pm UK time every Thursday. Today we will be featuring Vicky Neale investigating square numbers, plus lots of your live chat (& curiosity).

In addition, last week's show on Platonic Solids is available to watch any time along with 20 other back episodes.

OOMC: the club the whole world can join.







Please contact us for feedback and comments about this page. Created on 12 Jan 2022 - 22:31.