Marcus du Sautoy

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Marcus du Sautoy
File:Sautoy2 cropped.JPG
Marcus du Sautoy, 2007
Born Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy
(1965-08-26) 26 August 1965 (age 52)[1][2]
London, England
Citizenship British
Fields Mathematics, Science Communication
Institutions University of Oxford
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford (DPhil)
Thesis Discrete Groups, Analytic Groups and Poincaré Series (1989)
Doctoral advisor Daniel Segal[3]
Doctoral students Mark Berman
Anton Evseev
Pirita Paajanen
Gareth Taylor
Christopher Voll
Luke Woodward[3]
Known for The Music of the Primes
Notable awards
Spouse Shani Ram[1]

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy OBE /dᵿˈstɔɪ/,[4] (born 26 August 1965)[5] is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Formerly a Fellow of All Souls College, and Wadham College, he is now a Fellow of New College. He is President of the Mathematical Association. He was previously an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and a Royal Society University Research Fellow.

His academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory. In October 2008, he was appointed to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science, succeeding the inaugural holder Richard Dawkins.[6][7]

Life and career

Du Sautoy was born in London, grew up in Henley-on-Thames and was educated at local comprehensives Gillotts School[1] and King James's College (VI Form, now Henley College) and Wadham College, Oxford, where he obtained first class honours in Mathematics. He went on to complete his DPhil in mathematics. He currently lives in London with his wife and three children and plays football (No 17 for Recreativo Hackney FC) and the trumpet.[1]

In March 2006, his article Prime Numbers Get Hitched was published by the online Seed magazine.[8] In it he explained how the number 42, mentioned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as the answer to everything, is related to the Riemann zeta function. He has also published an article in the scientific magazine New Scientist.

In December 2006, du Sautoy delivered the 2006 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures under the collective title The Num8er My5teries. 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. The venue for the 2006 Christmas Lectures was the Institution of Engineering and Technology's headquarters at Savoy Place, London.

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."[9] He has described his own religion as being "Arsenal - football," as he sees religion as wanting to belong to a community.[10] Du Sautoy is a supporter of Common Hope, an organisation that helps people in Guatemala.[11]

Popularisation of mathematics

He is known for his work popularising mathematics. He has been named by The Independent on Sunday as one of the UK's leading scientists. In 2001 he won the Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society, which is awarded every two years to reward the best mathematical research by a mathematician under forty. 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.

He 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 Dara O'Briain and a guest to solve, using mathematical and experimentation methods respectively.

Personal life

Du Sautoy was a post-doc at the Hebrew University. It was there he met his Israeli wife Shani.[1] They have three children, a son called Tomer and adopted twin daughters Magaly and Ina, who are being raised Jewish.[12]

He is also a supporter of the football club Arsenal F.C.[13]

Awards and honours

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". Du Sautoy was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours "for services to Science".[14] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[15]



  • The Music of the Primes (Fourth Estate 2003)
  • Finding Moonshine (UK title, Fourth Estate 2007)
  • Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature (US title, 2008)
  • The Num8er My5teries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life (Fourth Estate 2010)


  • Mindgames (UK TV series) (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),[16] five Lectures about the great unsolved problems of mathematics.
  • The Story of Maths (BBC Four, 2008)[17] 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "du SAUTOY, Prof. Marcus Peter Francis" (Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press). (subscription required)
  2. "Prof Marcus du Sautoy portrait". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Marcus du Sautoy at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. Miller, G. M., ed. (1971) BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names. London: Oxford University Press; p. Du
  5. McKie, Robin (2008-11-02). "A mathematician who's in his prime". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  6. "New Simonyi Chair appointed". University of Oxford. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  7. Sautoy, M. (2000). "Countingp-groups and nilpotent groups". Publications Mathématiques de L'Institut des Hautes Scientifiques. 92: 63–11. doi:10.1007/BF02698914. 
  8. du Sautoy, Marcus (2006-03-27). "Prime Numbers Get Hitched". Seed. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  9. Jha, Alok (2008-10-28). "Science Extra: Marcus du Sautoy steps into Dawkins' boots". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  10. Interview with Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs, 12 December 2008
  11. "Interview with Marcus du Sautoy". New Scientist. 29 November 2008. 
  12. "How Jewish is Marcus Du Sautoy?". The Jewish Chronicle. 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  13. "The Music of Primes". 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2011-11-23. 
  14. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59282. p. 9. 31 December 2009.
  15. List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.
  16. "The Num8er My5teries". Royal Institution. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  17. "Maths and me: The presenter's story". OpenLearn. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 

External links