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

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 September 2018
Persi Diaconis

In this lecture Persi Diaconis will take a look at some of our most primitive images of chance - flipping a coin, rolling a roulette wheel and shuffling cards - and via a little bit of mathematics (and a smidgen of physics) show that sometimes things are not very random at all. Indeed chance is sometimes confused with frequency and this confusion caries over to a confusion between chance and evidence. All of which explains our wild misuse of probability and statistical models.

Persi Diaconis is world-renowned for his study of mathematical problems involving randomness and randomisation. He is the co-author of 'Ten Great Ideas about Chance (2017) and is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University. 

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

Watch live:


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

24 September 2018
Roger Penrose

Oxford Mathematics and the Clay Mathematics Institute Public Lectures

Roger Penrose - Eschermatics
24 September 2018 - 5.30pm

Roger Penrose’s work has ranged across many aspects of mathematics and its applications from his influential work on gravitational collapse to his work on quantum gravity. However, Roger has long had an interest in and influence on the visual arts and their connections to mathematics, most notably in his collaboration with Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. In this lecture he will use Escher’s work to illustrate and explain important mathematical ideas.

Oxford Mathematics is hosting this special event in its Public Lecture series during the conference to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the foundation of the Clay Mathematics Institute. After the lecture Roger will be presented with the Clay Award for the Dissemination of Mathematical Knowledge.

5.30-6.30pm, 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.

9 October 2018
James Sparks and City of London Sinfonia

Johann Sebastian Bach was the most mathematical of composers. Oxford Mathematician and Cambridge organ scholar James Sparks will explain just how mathematical and City of London Sinfonia will elaborate with a special performance of the Goldberg Variations. 


James Sparks - Bach and the Cosmos (30 minutes)

City of London Sinfonia - J S Bach arr. Sitkovetsky, Goldberg Variations (70 minutes)

Alexandra Wood - Director/Violin


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

Watch live:

The Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures are generously supported by XTX Markets

30 October 2018
Roger Penrose and Hannah Fry

Roger Penrose is the ultimate scientific all-rounder.  He started out in algebraic geometry but within a few years had laid the foundations of the modern theory of black holes with his celebrated paper on gravitational collapse. His exploration of foundational questions in relativistic quantum field theory and quantum gravity, based on his twistor theory, had a huge impact on differential geometry. His work has influenced both scientists and artists, notably Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher.

Roger Penrose is one of the great ambassadors for science. In this lecture and in conversation with mathematician and broadcaster Hannah Fry he will talk about work and career.

This lecture is in partnership with the Science Museum in London where it will take place. Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

You can also watch online:



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

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.

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

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.

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

9 January 2019
Marcus du Sautoy

We are delighted to announce our first Oxford Mathematics Midlands Public Lecture to take place at Solihull School on 9th January 2019. Our speaker will be Marcus du Sautoy, eminent mathematician and Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science here in Oxford. 

More details will follow but if you wish to book please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

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


5 February 2019
James Maynard

James Maynard is one of the brightest young stars in world mathematics at the moment, having made dramatic advances in analytic number theory in the years immediately following his 2013 doctorate. These advances have brought him worldwide attention in mathematics and beyond. Just 30, he has already gained many markers of distinction, including the European Mathematical Society Prize, the Ramanujan Prize and the Whitehead Prize.

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

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

Public Lectures Online

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 - 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

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