Marcus du Sautoy

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Marcus du Sautoy

Professor Marcus du Sautoy OBE FRS.jpg
Marcus du Sautoy at the Royal Society admissions day in July 2016
Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy

(1965-08-26) 26 August 1965 (age 53)[1][2]
London, England
EducationKing James's Sixth Form College[1]
Gillots Comprehensive School[1]
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (BA, DPhil)
Known forThe Music of the Primes
Shani Ram (m. 1994)
Scientific career
Science Communication
InstitutionsAll Souls College, Oxford
Wadham College, Oxford
New College, Oxford
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
ThesisDiscrete Groups, Analytic Groups and Poincaré Series (1989)
Doctoral advisorDan Segal[3][4]

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy OBE FRS /dʊˈstɔɪ/[5] (born 26 August 1965)[6] is a British mathematician, author, and populariser of science and mathematics. In 1996 he was awarded the Title of Distinction of Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and in 2008, he was appointed to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science and a fellowship at New College.[7][8][9] He was formerly a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and Wadham College, Oxford. He was previously President of the Mathematical Association, an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Senior Media Fellow, and a Royal Society University Research Fellow.[10]

Education and early life[edit]

Du Sautoy was born in London, grew up in Henley-on-Thames and was educated at Gillotts Comprehensive School[1] and King James's Sixth Form College (now Henley College) and Wadham College, Oxford, where he was awarded a first class honours degree in Mathematics. He went on to complete a doctorate in mathematics on discrete groups, analytic groups and Poincaré series in 1991 supervised by Dan Segal.[3]

Career and research[edit]

Mathematical research[edit]

Marcus du Sautoy in 2007

Du Sautoy's academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory.[11] According to the Royal Society, his research "uses classical tools from number theory to explore the mathematics of symmetry".[12] Another focus of du Sautoy's work in number theory has been prime numbers. For example, in a 2006 article published in Seed magazine, du Sautoy discussed how advances in quantum physics might help provide insight into the nature of prime numbers, particularly by making the Riemann hypothesis more tractable.[13]

Popularisation of mathematics[edit]

Du Sautoy is known for his work popularising mathematics. He has been named by The Independent on Sunday as one of the UK's leading scientists. He writes for The Times and The Guardian and has appeared several times on BBC Radio 4 and on television. He presented the television programme, Mind Games, on BBC Four.

In December 2006, du Sautoy delivered the 2006 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures under the collective title The Num8er My5teries.[14] This was only the third time the subject of the lectures had been mathematics – on the first occasion in 1978, when the lecture was delivered by Erik Christopher Zeeman, du Sautoy had been a schoolboy in the audience.

Du Sautoy has also written numerous academic articles and books on mathematics, the most recent being The Num8er My5teries. Du Sautoy is also on the advisory board of – an online maths game website and has appeared on Channel 4 News and on BBC Radio 4's Today programme promoting the service and is a regular contributor to the same network's In Our Time. He also appears on the TV series School of Hard Sums with Dara Ó Briain, where he sets three mathematical questions with a real world application, for Ó Briain and a guest to solve, using mathematical and experimentation methods respectively.


Television work[edit]

  • Mindgames (BBC Four, 2004-5). Presented 20 episodes of puzzle gameshow with regular guests Kathy Sykes and Michael Rosen.
  • The Music of the Primes (BBC Four, 2005, BBC 2 2007). One hour documentary based on his book.
  • Painting with Numbers (Teachers TV 2006). Four fifteen-minute programmes covering numerous topics from risk and probability to concepts of infinity, from codes and cryptography to flowers and football.
  • The Num8er My5teries: Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (Channel 5, 2006),[14] five Lectures about the great unsolved problems of mathematics.
  • The Story of Maths (BBC Four, 2008)[15] is a four-part series first broadcast on BBC Four. In this series he discovers techniques and theories from different times and cultures.
  • Horizon: Alan and Marcus Go Forth and Multiply (BBC 2, 2009). Alan Davies embarks on a maths odyssey with the help of mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.
  • Horizon: The Secret You (BBC 2, 2009). Marcus du Sautoy investigates self-awareness.
  • Horizon: How Long is a Piece of String? (BBC 2, 2009). Alan Davies attempts to answer the proverbial question: how long is a piece of string? Featuring Marcus du Sautoy.
  • Horizon: What Makes a Genius? (BBC 2, 2010). Marcus du Sautoy asks if geniuses' brains are fundamentally different from his.
  • The Beauty of Diagrams (BBC Four, 2010). Produced by Michael Waterhouse and directed by Steven Clarke, Marcus du Sautoy discusses influential scientific diagrams, starting with Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci's iconic anatomical drawing which follows the geometrical ideas of the Roman architect Vitruvius.
  • The Code (BBC 2, 2011). A three-part documentary series which began broadcasting on 27 July 2011.
  • Faster Than the Speed of Light? (BBC 2, 2011). Marcus du Sautoy discusses the recent discovery, the faster-than-light neutrino anomaly, that neutrinos may travel faster than light. First broadcast on 19 October 2011.
  • Horizon: The Hunt for AI (BBC 2, 2012). Marcus Du Sautoy asks how close mankind is to creating computers or robots that can think for themselves – artificial intelligence, AI. First broadcast on 3 April 2012.
  • Dara Ó Briain's School of Hard Sums (Dave, 2012). Co-host with Dara Ó Briain. Dara and guests attempt to solve problems posed by Marcus Du Sautoy with mathematics or through trial-and-error. First broadcast on 16 April 2012.
  • Precision: The Measure of All Things (BBC Four, 2013) Professor Marcus du Sautoy explores why we are driven to measure and quantify the world around us and why we have reduced the universe to just a handful of fundamental units of measurement. First broadcast on 10 June 2013.
  • The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms (BBC Four, 2015) Mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy demystifies the hidden world of algorithms. First broadcast on 24 September 2015.

Awards and honours[edit]

Du Sautoy was awarded the Berwick Prize in 2001 by the London Mathematical Society for the publication of outstanding mathematical research. In 2009 he won the Michael Faraday Prize from the Royal Society of London for "excellence in communicating science to UK audiences".[citation needed] Du Sautoy was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours "for services to Science".[16] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society[17] and in 2016 a Fellow of the Royal Society.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Du Sautoy lives in London with his family and plays football (No 17 for Recreativo Hackney FC) and the trumpet.[1] He met his wife Shani while a postdoctoral researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[1] Together they have three children, a son Tomer and adopted twin daughters Magaly and Ina, who are being raised Jewish.[18][unreliable source?]

Du Sautoy is an atheist but has stated that as holder of the Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science his focus is going to be "very much on the science and less on religion," perhaps suggesting a difference of emphasis compared to his predecessor in the post, Professor Richard Dawkins.[19] He has described his own religion as being "Arsenal – football", as he sees religion as wanting to belong to a community.[20] Du Sautoy is a supporter of Common Hope, an organisation that helps people in Guatemala.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Anon (2017). du Sautoy, Prof. Marcus Peter Francis. Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.245193. closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Prof Marcus du Sautoy portrait". The Daily Telegraph. London. 27 June 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b Du Sautoy, Marcus Peter Francis (1989). Discrete groups, analytic groups and Poincaré series. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 48598310. EThOS
  4. ^ Marcus du Sautoy at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Miller, G. M., ed. (1971) BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names. London: Oxford University Press; p. Du
  6. ^ McKie, Robin (2 November 2008). "A mathematician who's in his prime". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Marcus du Sautoy, OBE". New College, Oxford. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  8. ^ "New Simonyi Chair appointed". University of Oxford. 28 October 2008. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  9. ^ "About Marcus". Archived from the original on 2 November 2017.
  10. ^ Marcus du Sautoy Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  11. ^ Sautoy, M. (2000). "Countingp-groups and nilpotent groups". Publications Mathématiques de L'Institut des Hautes Scientifiques. 92 (1): 63–112. doi:10.1007/BF02698914.
  12. ^ a b Anon (2016). "Professor Marcus du Sautoy OBE FRS". London: Royal Society. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  13. ^ du Sautoy, Marcus (27 March 2006). "Prime Numbers Get Hitched". Seed. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  14. ^ a b "The Num8er My5teries". Royal Institution. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Maths and me: The presenter's story". OpenLearn. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  16. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 9.
  17. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  18. ^ "How Jewish is Marcus Du Sautoy?". The Jewish Chronicle. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  19. ^ Jha, Alok (28 October 2008). "Science Extra: Marcus du Sautoy steps into Dawkins' boots". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  20. ^ du Sautoy, Marcus (12 December 2008). "Desert Island Discs: Marcus du Sautoy". BBC Radio 4 (Interview). Interviewed by Kirsty Young. Quote comes from minute 31:08. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  21. ^ Parsons, Paul (29 November 2008). "Interview with Marcus du Sautoy". New Scientist.

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