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. And for more information click on the abstract for each lecture.

If you can't be here in person you can always view online. All our lectures are now broadcast live on our Facebook page and they are also subsequently available via our YouTube page. 

Jump down to Public Lectures and interviews online.

You can view and download posters from previous events.

5 February 2019
James Maynard

Why should anyone care about primes? Well, prime numbers are important, not just in pure mathematics, but also in the real world. Various different, difficult problems in science lead to seemingly very simple questions about prime numbers. Unfortunately, these seemingly simple problems have stumped mathematicians for thousands of years, and are now some of the most notorious open problems in mathematics!

Oxford Research Professor James Maynard is one of the brightest young stars in world mathematics at the moment, having made dramatic advances in analytic number theory in recent years. 

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

Watch live:


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

11 March 2019
Marc Lackenby

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures: Marc Lackenby - Knotty Problems 

11 March 2019

Knots are a familiar part of everyday life, for example tying your tie or doing up your shoe laces. They play a role in numerous physical and biological phenomena, such as the untangling of DNA when it replicates. However, knot theory is also a well-developed branch of pure mathematics.

In his talk, Marc will give an introduction to this theory and will place it in the context of the modern field of topology. This is the branch of mathematics where you are allowed to stretch and deform objects, but not tear them. He will explain how topological techniques can be used to prove some surprising facts about knots. He will also give some problems about knots that mathematicians haven't yet been able to solve.

Marc Lackenby is a Professor of Mathematics in Oxford and a Fellow of St Catherine's College.

5.00pm-6.00pm, Mathematical Institute, Oxford

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

Watch live:


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

30 April 2019

Julia Wolf is University Lecturer in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge, and the Director of Taught Postgraduate Education in the Faculty of Mathematics.

More details will follow. Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

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

16 May 2019
Graham Farmelo

Graham Farmelo - The Universe Speaks in Numbers 
16 May 2019

The supreme task of the physicist, Einstein believed, was to understand the 'miraculous' underlying order of the universe, in terms of the most basic laws of nature, written in mathematical language. Most physicists believe that it's best to seek these laws by trying to understand surprising new experimental findings. Einstein and his peer Paul Dirac disagreed and controversially argued that new laws are best sought by developing the underlying mathematics.

Graham will describe how this mathematical approach has led to insights into both fundamental physics and advanced mathematics, which appear to be inextricably intertwined. Some physicists and mathematicians believe they are working towards a giant mathematical structure that encompasses all the fundamental laws of nature. But might this be an illusion? Might mathematics be leading physics astray?

Graham Farmelo is a Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge and the author of 'The Strangest Man,' a biography of Paul Dirac.

Mathematical Institute

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

Or watch live:


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

18 September 2019
David Sumpter

Former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and current Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola is considered by many to be a footballing genius. He has revolutionised the tactical approach to football and that revolution has come about through his careful study of the geometry of the game. But can abstract mathematics really help a team improve its performance?

David Sumpter thinks it can. Unlike the simple statistics applied to (lesser) sports, football is best understood through the patterns the players create together on the field. From the geometry of shooting, through the graph theory of passing, to the tessellations created by players as they find space to move in to, all of these patterns can be captured by mathematical models. As a result, football clubs are increasingly turning to mathematicians. 

David Sumpter is Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. His scientific research covers everything from the inner workings of fish schools and ant colonies, the analysis of the passing networks of football teams and segregation in society.

5.00pm-6.00pm, Mathematical Institute, Oxford

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

Watch live:

The Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures are generously supported by XTX Markets

Public Lectures Online

To a physicist I am a mathematician; to a mathematician, a physicst - Roger Penrose and Hannah Fry

Bach and the Cosmos - James Sparks and City of London SInfonia

Eschermatics - Roger Penrose

Atomistically inspired origami - Richard James

Numbers are Serious but they are also Fun - Michael Atiyah

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 - Alison 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

John Ball on the journey of an applied mathematician - interview with Alain Goriely


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