Hannah Fry

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Hannah Fry

Hannah Fry at the Data of Tomorrow Conference 2017 (36638999274) (cropped 2).jpg
Fry in 2017
BornFebruary 1984 (age 39)[1]
Harlow, England
Alma materUniversity College London (UCL)
Occupation(s)Mathematician, author, radio and television presenter
Scientific career
ThesisA study of droplet deformation (2011)
Websitehannahfry.co.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Hannah Fry HonFREng[2] (born February 1984)[1] is a British mathematician, author, and radio and television presenter. She is Professor in the Mathematics of Cities at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.[3] She studies the patterns of human behaviour, such as interpersonal relationships and dating, and how mathematics can apply to them.[4][5] Fry delivered the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

Early life and education[edit]

Fry is of mixed English and Irish heritage; her father is English, and her mother is from Ireland.[6] One summer, her mother made her solve all the problems in a mathematics textbook, and this put her ahead of the other students in the next school year.[6] She attended Presdales School in Ware, Hertfordshire, England,[7] where a teacher inspired her to study mathematics.[8] She subsequently graduated from University College London (UCL).[9] In 2011, she submitted a thesis based on the Navier–Stokes equations,[10] and was awarded a PhD from the department of Mathematics by UCL.[11][3]



Fry was appointed as a lecturer at University College London in 2012. At the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, following a number of years as a senior lecturer and then associate professor, she was appointed professor in the Mathematics of Cities, in 2021.[3]

At the Data of Tomorrow conference, 2017

TED and YouTube[edit]

For a year, Fry decided to say "yes" to everything, which led to her trying stand-up comedy, a TED Talk (invited by the German neuroscientist Alina Strasser), and television work.[12]

On 30 March 2014, Fry gave a TED talk at TEDxBinghamtonUniversity[13] titled The Mathematics of Love, which as of August 2020 has attracted over 5.2 million views.[14] Her book The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation – in which she applies statistical and data-scientific models to dating, sex and marriage – was published by Simon and Schuster under the TED Books imprint in February 2015.[10][15]

Fry has appeared in several videos for a YouTube mathematics channel, Numberphile, run by Brady Haran.[16] She has also made an appearance on his podcast: The Numberphile Podcast.[17]

Radio and television[edit]

Fry regularly appears on BBC Radio 4 in the UK, including in Computing Britain (2015, 12 episodes)[18] and The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry (with Adam Rutherford), which aired its 17th series in 2020/21.[19]

Fry has presented several BBC television programmes. In 2015, she presented a BBC Four film biography of Ada Lovelace.[20] In 2016, she co-presented Trainspotting Live with Peter Snow, a three-part series about trains and trainspotting, for the same channel.[21][22] In the BBC Two series City in the Sky Fry studied the logistics of aviation.[23] She also hosted The Joy of Data on BBC Four, which examines the history and human impact of data.[24][25] A further credit for 2016 was her co-hosting an episode of the BBC Two Horizon series with Dr Xand van Tulleken, titled How to Find Love Online.[26][27] In 2017, Fry presented an episode of Horizon titled 10 Things You Need to Know About the Future.[28]

In 2018, Fry presented Contagion! The BBC Four Pandemic, about the possible impact of a flu pandemic,[29][30] in which she said " ... we are about to simulate the outbreak of a fatal contagion throughout the UK. ... if I can succeed this will save lives when, not if, a real pandemic hits".[31] The programme used Haslemere, Surrey as the site of the first simulated infection, and coincidentally in February 2020 the town saw the first recorded case of a person contracting COVID-19 from within the UK.[31] In the same year she presented Magic Numbers, also on BBC Four, a three-part series which explored mathematical concepts.[32] She hosted a one-off 90-minute special of the BBC science programme Tomorrow's World alongside four presenters from the show's original run: Maggie Philbin, Howard Stableford, Judith Hann and Peter Snow.[33]

In 2019, Fry presented a BBC Four programme titled A Day in the Life of Earth which explored how Earth changes in a single day and how these daily changes are essential to human existence.[34] Fry also co-presented a Horizon episode titled The Honest Supermarket, which covered a range of issues, including expiry dates and their impact on food waste, microplastics in the human food supply and the impact food consumption has on the environment.[35] She presented the 2019 edition of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled Secrets and lies, on the hidden numbers, rules and patterns that control daily lives;[36] the three lectures were broadcast on BBC Four.[37]

In 2020, Fry co-presented both The Great British Intelligence Test and Coronavirus Special – Part 2 with Michael Mosley on BBC Two.[38][39] She has presented further programmes for the BBC explaining the mathematics behind COVID-19 and other pandemics.[40]

In 2021, Fry was the guest interviewee on The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4.[41]

In 2022, Fry was twice a panellist on Have I Got News For You, with the episodes first airing on 15 April 2022 and 28 October 2022 on BBC One.

In July 2022, she presented the BBC Two documentary Unvaccinated, in which she investigated why a portion of the British population remained unvaccinated against COVID-19.[42]

Beginning 10 November 2022, Fry presented a six-part series on BBC Two: in The Secret Genius Of Modern Life she investigates topics such as how credit cards came into being, their manufacture and how they work, and how we use apps to order takeaway deliveries.[citation needed]

She will present The Future With Hannah Fry on Bloomberg Originals in March 2023.[43]


Fry has written three books. The first, The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation (2015), includes the "37% rule", a form of the secretary problem according to which roughly the first third of any potential partners should be rejected. The second, The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus (2016, co-authored with fellow mathematician Thomas Oléron Evans), discusses various Christmas-related topics and how mathematics can be involved in them, including a fair Secret Santa, decoration of Christmas trees, winning at Monopoly, and comparing the vocabulary of the Queen's Christmas message to that of the lyrics of Snoop Dogg.[9] Her third book is Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms (2018) (retitled, and reprinted, in the same year, as Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine), which looks at the impact of algorithms that affect lives.[44]

Fry has attempted to overturn the stereotype that mathematics is "boring" and not worth studying. Although she acknowledges the subject is difficult, she believes it is possible to frame it using stories that people can relate to, such as the material in her books.[8]


  • The Mathematics of Love (2015), ISBN 978-1471141805
  • The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus (2017), ISBN 978-1784162740
  • Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine (2019), ISBN 978-1784163068
  • "What Statistics Can and Can't Tell Us About Ourselves". The New Yorker. 28 August 2019.

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2013, Fry won the UCL Provost's Public Engager of the Year award.[45] The award recognises the work that UCL's staff and students are doing to open up the university. Fry was nominated for her broad portfolio of public engagement activities.[45]

In 2018, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society announced that Fry had won that year's Christopher Zeeman Medal "for her contributions to the public understanding of the mathematical sciences".[46]

In 2020, Fry won the Asimov Prize, a literary-scientific award organised by the Italian graduate school Gran Sasso Science Institute, for her book Hello World.[47] In 2020, Fry was also awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on the 150th anniversary of the institution.[48]

Personal life[edit]

After meeting on a blind date in 2014, Fry married Phil, a sports writer and stay-at-home dad;[6] they have two daughters.[12][1]

In January 2021 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the following month underwent radical hysterectomy.[49][50] She was commissioned by BBC Two[51] to write and present a Horizon documentary about her treatment and its long-term effects (in her case including lymphoedema), in which she explores the statistics behind screening and decision-making by patients and doctors. The 60-minute programme Making Sense of Cancer with Hannah Fry was first shown on 2 June 2022.[52]


  1. ^ a b c Mesure, Susie (27 November 2019). "Hannah Fry, the woman making maths cool". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  2. ^ "New Fellows 2022". Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Fry, Hannah. "Dr Hannah Fry". Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. University College London. Archived from the original on 18 January 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  4. ^ Hannah Fry Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  5. ^ Is life really that complex?, a TED talk
  6. ^ a b c Fry, Hannah (1 January 2017). "MY STORY". Elle UK. Retrieved 3 June 2022 – via PressReader.
  7. ^ "Mathematics Department Speaker – Dr Hannah Fry". Presdales.herts.sch.uk. Presdales School & Sixth Form. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Dr Fry, or how to stop pupils worrying and love maths". TES. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  9. ^ a b "In conversation with Hannah Fry". Chalkdust Magazine. University College London. 24 March 2015.
  10. ^ a b Buchan, Kit (19 June 2016). "Hannah Fry: 'There's a mathematical angle to almost anything'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  11. ^ Fry, Hannah M. (2011). A study of droplet deformation. ucl.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University College London. OCLC 829959172. S2CID 110868043. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.565231. icon of an open green padlock
  12. ^ a b Kelly, Guy (13 October 2020). "Mathematician Hannah Fry on Covid briefings: 'By focusing on numbers we can lose sight of people'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 13 February 2022. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  13. ^ "TEDx 2014 at Binghamton University". binghamton.edu. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  14. ^ Fry, Hannah. "The mathematics of love". ted.com. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  15. ^ Fry, H. (2015). The Mathematics of Love. TED. Simon & Schuster UK. ISBN 978-1-4711-4179-9. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  16. ^ "The Team". Numberphile. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Delicious Problems – with Hannah Fry". Numberphile.
  18. ^ "Computing Britain". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  19. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry". BBC. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  20. ^ "Calculating Ada: The Countess of computing". BBC. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  21. ^ Debnath, Neela (23 May 2016). "Trainspotting Live: Who is the host of the new BBC Four show, Dr Hannah Fry?". Daily Express. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  22. ^ "Meet the stars of new TV show 'Trainspotting Live'". The Daily Telegraph. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  23. ^ "City in the Sky". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  24. ^ "Dr Hannah Fry - The Joy of Data - BBC Four". The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. University College London. 20 July 2016.
  25. ^ "The Joy of Data". BBC Four. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  26. ^ "How to Find Love Online, 2016, Horizon". BBC Two. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Dr Hannah Fry's top 5 tips on finding and keeping the love of your life". Research Live. Market Research Society. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  28. ^ "10 Things You Need to Know About the Future". BBC. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  29. ^ Daniel, Ellen (6 March 2020). "Hannah Fry: Data could help control UK coronavirus outbreak". Verdict. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  30. ^ "Contagion! The BBC Four Pandemic". BBC. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  31. ^ a b Boyd, Alex (2 March 2020). "BBC programme faked virus 'pandemic' in Haslemere two years ago". SurreyLive. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  32. ^ "BBC Four – Magic Numbers: Hannah Fry's Mysterious World of Maths". BBC. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  33. ^ Conlan, Tara (3 November 2018). "BBC to reboot Tomorrow's World for one-off live special". The Guardian.
  34. ^ "BBC Four – A Day in the Life of Earth". BBC. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  35. ^ "BBC Two – Horizon, 2019, The Honest Supermarket: What's Really in Our Food?". BBC. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Christmas Lectures 2019: Secrets and lies". Royal Institution. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  37. ^ "Royal Institution Christmas Lectures". BBC Four. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  38. ^ "Horizon, 2020, The Great British Intelligence Test". BBC Two. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  39. ^ "Horizon, 2020, Coronavirus Special – Part 2". BBC Two. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  40. ^ "Can maths help us to beat the coronavirus?". BBC World Service. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  41. ^ "Hannah Fry on the power and perils of big data". The Life Scientific. Episode 243. 7 September 2021. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  42. ^ "BBC announces new documentary, Unvaccinated, with Professor Hannah Fry". BBC Media Centre. 8 July 2022. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  43. ^ "The Future With Hannah Fry". bloomberg.com. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  44. ^ "Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms". American Physics Society. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  45. ^ a b "Dr Hannah Fry wins Provost's Public Engager of the Year award". The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. UCL. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  46. ^ "Hannah Fry is awarded 2018 Christopher Zeeman Medal", IMA, accessed 9 September 2018
  47. ^ "Quinta edizione - premio Asimov" (in Italian). Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  48. ^ "IET announces 16 Honorary Fellows to mark 150th year". Theiet.org. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  49. ^ Lewis, Isobel (2 June 2022). "Hannah Fry on making a Horizon documentary about her cancer". The Independent. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  50. ^ Haran, Brady (29 May 2022). "The Orchid Room and Cancer (with Hannah Fry)". Numberphile Podcast. Retrieved 3 June 2022 – via YouTube.
  51. ^ "Curious Films preps BBC2 Hannah Fry documentary". Televisual. 26 April 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  52. ^ "BBC Two - Horizon, 2022, Making Sense of Cancer with Hannah Fry". BBC. Retrieved 4 June 2022.

External links[edit]