The Secrets of Mathematics

Oxford University


A series of talks and lectures from Oxford Mathematicians exploring the power and beauty of their subject. These talks would appeal to anyone interested in mathematics and its ever-growing range of applications from medicine to economics and beyond.

Looking for recently uploaded episodes
Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures: Hooke Lecture - Michael Berry - Chasing the dragon: tidal bores in the UK and elsewhere

52:22 | Jan 28th

In some of the world’s rivers, an incoming high tide can arrive as a smooth jump decorated by undulations, or as a breaking wave. The river reverses direction and flows upstream. In this lecture Michael Berry explains tidal bores via analogies with t...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Student Lectures: An Introduction to Complex Numbers - Vicky Neale

50:04 | Jan 22nd

Much is written about life as an undergraduate at Oxford but what is it really like? As Oxford Mathematics's new first-year students arrive (273 of them, comprising 33 nationalities) we thought we would take the opportunity to go behind the scenes an...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures: Marcus du Sautoy - The Num8er My5teries

58:48 | Jan 14th

With topics ranging from prime numbers to the lottery, from lemmings to bending balls like Beckham, Professor Marcus du Sautoy provides an entertaining and, perhaps, unexpected approach to explain how mathematics can be used to predict the future. W...Show More

Can we build AI with Emotional Intelligence? The 2018 Annual Charles Simonyi Lecture

54:06 | Nov 9th, 2018

Marcus du Sautoy and Professor Rosalind Picard for 2018's annual Simonyi Lecture: Can we build AI with Emotional Intelligence? Today’s AI can play games, drive cars, even do our jobs for us. But surely our human emotional world is beyond the limits o...Show More

Roger Penrose in conversation with Hannah Fry - Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures

1:21:07 | Nov 6th, 2018

In our Oxford Mathematics London Public Lecture Roger Penrose in conversation with Hannah Fry reveals his latest research, a veritable chain reaction of universes, which he says has been backed by evidence of events that took place before the Big Ban...Show More

Oxford Mathematics and the Clay Mathematics Institute Public Lectures: Roger Penrose - Eschermatics

1:10:08 | Oct 1st, 2018

In this lecture Roger Penrose uses M.C Escher's work to illustrate and explain important mathematical ideas and their connections to the visual arts. Roger Penrose's work has ranged across many aspects of mathematics and its applications from his in...Show More

John Ball in conversation with Alain Goriely

1:08:56 | Jul 27th, 2018

John Ball is retiring as Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Oxford oldest Scientific Chair. In this interview he charts the journey of the Applied the subject has developed over the last 50 years. Describing his struggles with...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Richard James - Atomistically inspired origami

58:34 | Jul 6th, 2018

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 m...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Numbers are Serious but they are also Fun - Michael Atiyah

59:04 | May 23rd, 2018

Archimedes, who famously jumped out of his bath shouting "Eureka", also 'invented' the number 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 ...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Can Mathematics Understand the Brain?' - Alain Goriely

54:33 | Mar 16th, 2018

The human brain is the object of the ultimate intellectual egocentrism. It is also a source of endless scientific problems and an organ of such complexity that it is not clear that a mathematical approach is even possible, despite many attempts. In ...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Euler’s pioneering equation: "the most beautiful theorem in mathematics" - Robin Wilson

1:03:59 | Mar 7th, 2018

Euler’s equation, the ‘most beautiful equation in mathematics’, startlingly connects the five most important constants in the subject: 1, 0, π, e and i. Central to both mathematics and physics. So what is this equation – and why is it pioneering? Rob...Show More

Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures - Scaling the Maths of Life - Michael Bonsall

1:01:45 | Feb 12th, 2018

Michael Bonsall explores how we can use mathematics to link between scales of organisation in biology, delving in to developmental biology, ecology and neurosciences. The lecture is illustrated and explored with real life examples, simple games and, ...Show More

Can Yule Solve My Problems? - Alex Bellos

48:09 | Dec 13th, 2017

In our Oxford Mathematics Christmas Lecture Alex Bellos challenges you with some festive brainteasers as he tells the story of mathematical puzzles from the middle ages to modern day. Alex is the Guardian’s puzzle blogger as well as the author of sev...Show More

Oxford Mathematics London Public Lecture - Andrew Wiles

1:08:46 | Dec 6th, 2017

In the first Oxford Mathematics London Public Lecture, in partnership with the Science Museum, world-renowned mathematician Andrew Wiles lectured on his current work around Elliptic Curves followed by conversation with Hannah Fry. In a fascinating in...Show More

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

46:31 | Nov 16th, 2017

Allan McRobie explains how the key to understanding the language of curves is Rene Thom’s Catastrophe Theory, and how remarkably the best place to learn that language is perhaps in the life drawing class. There is a deep connection between the stabil...Show More

Maths v Disease - Julia Gog

56:59 | Nov 13th, 2017

Can mathematics really help us in our fight against infectious disease? Join Julia Gog as we explore exciting current research areas where mathematics is being used to study pandemics, viruses and everything in between. Julia Gog is Professor of Math...Show More

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

44:42 | Oct 24th, 2017

Prime numbers have intrigued, inspired and infuriated mathematicians for millennia and yet mathematicians' difficulty with answering simple questions about them reveals their depth and subtlety. Join Vicky to learn about recent progress towards prov...Show More

The Law of the Few - Sanjeev Goyal

59:09 | Jul 4th, 2017

The study of networks offers a fruitful approach to understanding human behaviour. Sanjeev Goyal is one of its pioneers. In this lecture Sanjeev presents a puzzle: In social communities, the vast majority of individuals get their information from a v...Show More

The Sound of Symmetry - Marcus du Sautoy

46:20 | May 24th, 2017

Symmetry has played a role both for composers and in the creation of musical instruments. Marcus shows how composers have used this symmetry and demonstrates how Ernst Chladni revealed extraordinary symmetrical shapes in the vibrations of a metal Pl...Show More

The Butterfly Effect - What Does it Really Signify? - Tim Palmer

1:01:10 | May 18th, 2017

Tim Palmer discusses Ed Lorenz the man and his work, and compares and contrasts the meaning of the 'Butterfly Effect' as most people understand it today, and as Lorenz himself intended it to mean. Meteorologist Ed Lorenz was one of the founding fathe...Show More

Statistics: Why the Truth Matters - Tim Harford

57:38 | Feb 14th, 2017

Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist and presenter of Radio 4's "More or Less", argues that politicians, businesses and even charities have been poisoning the value of statistics and data. From the tobacco companies in the fifties to the arguments ...Show More

The Mathematics of Visual Illusions - Ian Stewart

49:56 | Jan 5th, 2017

Puzzling things happen in human perception when ambiguous or incomplete information is presented to the eyes. In this lecture Ian Stewart demonstrates how these phenomena provide clues about the workings of the visual system. For example, illusions,...Show More

How can we understand our complex economy? - J. Doyne Farmer

1:06:30 | Nov 10th, 2016

We are getting better at predicting things about our environment - the impact of climate change for example. But what about predicting our collective effect on ourselves? We can predict the small things, but we fail miserably when it comes to many o...Show More

Autism and Minds Wired for Science

1:02:43 | Oct 31st, 2016

Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Cambridge, and Director of the Autism Research Centre, gives the 2016 Charles Simonyi Lecture on new research into autism.

As he retires from the the Savilian Chair of Geometry, Oxford Mathematician Nigel Hitchin reflects

1:07:08 | Oct 19th, 2016

From early mathematical inspiration at school in Duffield, Derbyshire, Nigel recalls his often unplanned progress via Jesus College, Oxford, Princeton, Cambridge and Warwick, before his final return to Oxford. Along the way such luminaries as Michael...Show More

Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe - Roger Penrose

1:01:05 | Oct 19th, 2016

What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, scientists are immune to trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In this lecture, based on his new book, Roger wi...Show More

Roger Heath-Brown a Life in Mathematics

37:02 | Sep 17th, 2016

Roger Heath-Brown is one of Oxford's foremost mathematicians. In this interview with fellow Oxford Mathematician Ben Green, Roger reflects on his influences, his achievements and the pleasures that the subject of mathematics has given him. Roger ...Show More

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

53:59 | Jul 6th, 2016

In this lecture Professor Alison Etheridge explores some of the simple mathematical caricatures that underpin our understanding of modern genetic data. How can we explain the patterns of genetic variation in the world around us? The genetic compositi...Show More

What We Cannot Know - Marcus du Sautoy

55:49 | May 16th, 2016

Science is giving us unprecedented insight into the big questions that have challenged humanity. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness? 'Wha...Show More

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

57:36 | Dec 18th, 2015

The Oxford Mathematics Christmas Public Lecture 2015 examined an aspect of Christmas not often considered: the mathematics. Delivered by Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science. The Oxford Mathematics Christmas Lec...Show More

Symmetry, Spaces and Undecidability - Martin Bridson

1:01:38 | Dec 7th, 2015

The understanding of the possible geometries in dimension 3 is one of the triumphs of 20th century mathematics. In this talk Martin Bridson explains why such an understanding is impossible in higher dimensions. When one wants to describe the symmetri...Show More

Putting the Higgs Boson in its Place

51:22 | Nov 16th, 2015

Professor Melissa Franklin talks about her experiences working towards the discovery of the Higgs Boson and her work today at the Large Hadron Collider This entertaining lecture by experimental particle physicist, Professor Melissa Franklin (the firs...Show More

M. C. Escher - Artist, Mathematician, Man

1:11:47 | Oct 28th, 2015

M.C. Escher is known as the mathematician's (and hippie's) favourite artist. But why? And was Escher, a man who claimed he knew no mathematics, really a mathematical genius? In this lecture Roger Penrose and Jon Chapman not only show why Escher has w...Show More

The Gomboc, the Turtle and the Evolution of Shape - Gabor Domokos

51:03 | Jul 1st, 2015

Gabor Domokos gives a talk on his mathematical journey that led to the creation of the Gomboc, the shape which has just one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium. In 1995, Russian mathematician V.I. Arnold conjectured that convex, homogeneous ...Show More

Birth of an Idea: A Mathematical Adventure - Cedric Villani

57:11 | Mar 12th, 2015

What goes on inside the mind of a mathematician? Where does inspiration come from? Cedric Villani, winner of the most prestigious prize in mathematics, the Fields Medal, explains the process. Inaugural Titchmarsh Lecture 2015. Creative Commons Attri...Show More

Why climate change action is difficult and how we can make a difference - David MacKay

1:00:49 | Dec 4th, 2014

2014 Charles Simonyi Lecture with David MacKay. David discusses how the laws of physics constrain our energy options, and describes what happened when his reflections on energy arithmetic propelled him into a senior civil service role.

Forbidden Crystal Symmetry: Mathematics and architecture - Roger Penrose

55:01 | Dec 4th, 2014

World-renowned mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, Oxford University, describes how crystalline symmetries are necessarily 2-fold, 3-fold, 4-fold, or 6-fold.

What Maths Really Does: From modelling the brain to modelling the climate - Alain Goriely

58:55 | Dec 4th, 2014

How has mathematics emerged over recent decades as the engine behind 21st century science? Alain Goriely looks at this question and more.

The History of Mathematics in 300 Stamps - Robin Wilson

56:47 | Dec 3rd, 2014

The entire history of mathematics in one hour, as illustrated by around 300 postage stamps featuring mathematics and mathematicians from across the world. From Euclid to Euler, from Pythagoras to Poincare, and from Fibonacci to the Fields Medals, all...Show More

Big Data's Big Deal - Viktor Mayer-Schonberger

44:14 | Nov 20th, 2014

Big Data promises to change all sectors of our economy, and deeply affect our society. But beyond the current hype, what are Big Data's salient qualities, and do they warrant the high hopes? These are some of the questions that this talk addresses. ...Show More

Love and Math

58:17 | Jul 12th, 2014

A public lecture given by Edward Frenkel, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, talking around his best-selling book "Love and Math" followed by a conversation with Marcus du Sautoy and Q&A. "Love and Math" tells two intertwined st...Show More

Extra Time: Professor Sir Roger Penrose in conversation with Andrew Hodges - part one

51:13 | Jun 18th, 2014

These two video sessions explore the development of Sir Roger Penrose's thought over more than 60 years, ending with his most recent theories and predictions. In the first session, Roger Penrose explains the impact of his time at Cambridge in the 195...Show More

Extra Time: Professor Sir Roger Penrose in conversation with Andrew Hodges - part two

42:31 | Jun 18th, 2014

These two video sessions explore the development of Sir Roger Penrose’s thought over more than 60 years, ending with his most recent theories and predictions. In the second session, the emphasis shifts to the recent developments in Roger Penrose's th...Show More

Sir Michael Atiyah, a Life in Mathematics

32:30 | May 12th, 2014

In conversation with Paul Tod on the occasion of Sir Michael's 85th birthday conference. A portrait of the contribution that Sir Michael Atiyah has made to mathematics over his career together with his recollections of formative people and events. In...Show More

James D Murray, reflections of a life in academia, in conversation with Phillip Maini

55:22 | Apr 2nd, 2014

Jim Murray is one of the leading mathematical biologists of our times. In this wide-ranging interview Jim talks about his career, the range of his work, his successes and failures and his hopes and expectations for the future of mathematical biology....Show More

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

1:19:09 | Mar 21st, 2014

Professor James D Murray, Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Biology, University of Oxford and Senior Scholar, Applied and Computational Mathematics, Princeton University, gives the annual Hooke Lecture. Understanding the generation and control of pa...Show More

Bryce McLeod, a Life in Mathematics In conversation with John Ball

1:00:06 | Mar 11th, 2014

A portrait of the contribution that Bryce McLeod has made to mathematics over his career together with his recollections of formative people and events. Interview by Professor Sir John Ball FRS, FRSE , Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy.

Partial Differential Equations: Origins, Developments and Roles in the Changing World - Gui-Qiang George Chen

52:16 | Jan 15th, 2014

Professor Gui-Qiang G. Chen presents in his inaugural lecture several examples to illustrate the origins, developments, and roles of partial differential equations in our changing world. While calculus is a mathematical theory concerned with change, ...Show More

Prime Numbers - Richard Earl

47:53 | Jan 15th, 2014

Dr Richard Earl of the Mathematical Institute, Oxford presents a talk about prime numbers. What they are and their role in internet security.

Computation and the Future of Mathematics - Stephen Wolfram

51:50 | Jan 15th, 2014

Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha, gives a talk about the future of mathematics and computation.

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

1:29:49 | Jan 15th, 2014

Professor Marcus du Sautoy (New College), Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science, author and broadcaster gives a talk about how much we can understand of the world through maths

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

1:34:49 | Jan 15th, 2014

Professor Marcus du Sautoy (New College), Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science, author and broadcaster gives a talk about the connections beween art and mathematics

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

1:36:29 | Jan 14th, 2014

Professor Marcus du Sautoy (New College), Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science, author and broadcaster gives a talk about symmetry and how the rules of symmetry influences our lives and the choices we make.

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

1:09:30 | Jan 14th, 2014

Professor Marcus du Sautoy (New College), Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science, author and broadcaster gives a talk on 5th September 2013.

Maths in Music: The Secret Mathematicians - Marcus du Sautoy

51:41 | Jan 14th, 2014

Professor Marcus du Sautoy (New College), Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science, author and broadcaster gives a talk for the 2013 Oxford Alumni Weekend. From composers to painters, writers to choreographers, the mathematician's...Show More