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Hannah Fry

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Hannah Fry
Fry in 2017
Born (1984-02-21) 21 February 1984 (age 40) [1]
EducationUniversity College London (BA, MA, PhD)
Occupation(s)Academic, 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 21 February 1984)[1] is a British academic, author and radio and television presenter. She is Professor in the Mathematics of Cities at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.[3] In January 2024, Fry was appointed to be the new president of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.[4] Her work has included studies of patterns of human behaviour, such as interpersonal relationships and dating, and how mathematics can apply to them.[5] Fry delivered the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and has presented several programmes for the BBC, including The Secret Genius of Modern Life.

Early life and education[edit]

Fry, the middle of three daughters, was born in Harlow[1] on 21 February 1984. She is of English and Irish heritage; her father is an English factory worker, and her mother, a stay-at-home mum, is from Ireland.[6][7] One summer, when she was about 11, her mother made her solve one page of problems in a mathematics textbook each day of the summer holiday, and this put her ahead of the other students in the next school year.[7][8] She attended Presdales School in Ware, Hertfordshire, England,[9] where a teacher inspired her to study mathematics.[10] She subsequently graduated from University College London (UCL).[11] In 2011, she submitted a thesis based on the Navier–Stokes equations,[12] and was awarded a PhD from the Department of Mathematics by UCL.[3][13]



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]

In 2015, 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.[14]

On 30 March 2014, Fry gave a TED talk at TEDxBinghamtonUniversity[15] titled The Mathematics of Love, which as of December 2023 has attracted over 5.74 million views.[16] 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.[12][17]

Fry has appeared in several videos for a YouTube mathematics channel, Numberphile, run by Brady Haran.[18] She has also made an appearance on his podcast: The Numberphile Podcast.[19]

Radio and television[edit]

Fry regularly appears on BBC Radio 4 in the UK, including in Computing Britain (2015, 12 episodes)[20] and The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry (with Adam Rutherford), which aired its 21st series in 2023.[21]

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

In 2018, Fry presented Contagion! The BBC Four Pandemic, about the possible impact of a flu pandemic,[28] 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."[29] 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.[29]

In the same year she presented Size Matters,[30] on BBC Four, a two-part series, and Magic Numbers, on BBC Four, a three-part series which explored mathematical concepts.[31] 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.[32]

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.[33] 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.[34] 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;[35] the three lectures were broadcast on BBC Four.[36]

In 2020, Fry co-presented both The Great British Intelligence Test and Coronavirus Special – Part 2 with Michael Mosley on BBC Two.[37][38] She has presented further programmes for the BBC explaining the mathematics behind COVID-19 and other pandemics.[39]

Since 2020, Fry has been the host of the podcast created for the artificial intelligence company, DeepMind.[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. She has presented the show on 24 November 2023 and 12 April 2024.[42]

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.[43] Reviewing in The Daily Telegraph, Anita Singh described the show as patronising, commenting that Fry's attempt to explain statistics using "jelly-bean roulette" treated the unvaccinated people who chose to appear in the show like "six-year-olds".[44] Jack Seale for The Guardian wrote that "Fry needs some reward for Unvaccinated (BBC Two), a documentary that requires a near-saintly level of tolerance just to watch, never mind present".[45]

Beginning 10 November 2022, Fry presented a six-part series on BBC Two, The Secret Genius Of Modern Life,[46] in which 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.[47] The BBC commissioned a second six-part series, again presented by Fry and first broadcast in November 2023. Episodes include one on the secrets of producing the British passport, detailing the document's security features; she illustrated this with her own passport, which showed her date and place of birth.[48]

She presented The Future With Hannah Fry on Bloomberg Originals in March 2023.[49]

In September 2023, BBC Radio Four started to broadcast Uncharted with Hannah Fry, a series of 15 minute documentaries about graphs.[50]


Fry has written four 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.[11] 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.[51] In 2021, she wrote Rutherford & Fry’s Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything (Abridged) with Adam Rutherford.[52]

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.[10]


In January 2024, Fry was appointed to be the new President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2013, Fry won the UCL Provost's Public Engager of the Year award. 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.[53]

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".[54]

In 2020, Fry won the Asimov Prize, a literary-scientific award organised by the Italian INFN Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare and GSSI graduate school Gran Sasso Science Institute, for her book Hello World.[55] In 2020, Fry was also awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on the 150th anniversary of the institution.[56]

Personal life[edit]

After meeting on a blind date in 2014, Fry married Phil, a sports writer and stay-at-home dad;[7] they have two daughters.[14][57] They have since separated ("We're co-parenting, he lives really close to me, we're really good friends").[58] She lives in south London.[59]

In January 2021, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the following month underwent a radical hysterectomy.[60] She was commissioned by BBC Two[61] to write and present a Horizon documentary about her treatment and its long-term effects (in her case including lymphoedema),[62] 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.[63] Fry had reconstructive surgery, lymphaticovenular anastomosis.[59][64] About the lymphoedema treatment, Fry said, "Although we didn't know at the time, we took a very risk-averse route that we didn't need to ... It's not really about regret. It's just that I feel like the calculation was made without me having the chance to put what I really cared about into the equation."[62]



  • 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
  • Rutherford and Fry’s Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything (Abridged) (2022), ISBN 978-0552176712

Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ Online version is titled "When graphs are a matter of life and death".


  1. ^ a b c "BBC iPlayer - The Secret Genius of Modern Life - Series 2: 1. Passport". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  2. ^ "New Fellows 2022". Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Fry, Hannah (29 December 2016). "Dr Hannah Fry". Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL. Archived from the original on 18 January 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b "New IMA President 2024-25, Hannah Fry". IMA.
  5. ^ Hannah Fry Official website Edit this at Wikidata
    - Is life really that complex?, a TED talk
  6. ^ Carpenter, Louise (13 May 2022). "Prof Hannah Fry on calculating the risks of cancer treatment: 'I would have paid any price'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  7. ^ a b c Fry, Hannah (1 January 2017). "MY STORY". Elle UK. Retrieved 3 June 2022 – via PressReader.
  8. ^ a b Hunt, Elle (26 October 2022). "'A celebrity? Only if you like niche maths videos on the internet': Hannah Fry on cancer, Covid and the science of love". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  9. ^ "Mathematics Department Speaker – Dr Hannah Fry". Presdales School & Sixth Form. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Dr Fry, or how to stop pupils worrying and love maths". TES. 6 December 2019. Archived from the original on 8 July 2023. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  11. ^ a b Lambert, Anna (24 March 2015). "In conversation with Hannah Fry". Chalkdust. University College London.
  12. ^ a b Buchan, Kit (19 June 2016). "Hannah Fry: 'There's a mathematical angle to almost anything'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  13. ^ 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. Free access icon
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "TEDx 2014 at Binghamton University". binghamton.edu. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  16. ^ Fry, Hannah (13 February 2015). "The mathematics of love". ted.com. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  17. ^ Fry, H. (2015). The Mathematics of Love. TED. Simon & Schuster UK. ISBN 978-1-4711-4179-9. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  18. ^ "The Team". Numberphile. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Delicious Problems – with Hannah Fry". Numberphile. 16 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Computing Britain". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  21. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry". BBC. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  22. ^ "Calculating Ada: The Countess of computing". BBC. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Meet the stars of new TV show 'Trainspotting Live'". The Daily Telegraph. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  24. ^ "City in the Sky". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  25. ^ "Dr Hannah Fry - The Joy of Data - BBC Four". The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. University College London. 20 July 2016.
    - "The Joy of Data". BBC Four. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  26. ^ "How to Find Love Online, 2016, Horizon". BBC Two. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
    - "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.
  27. ^ "10 Things You Need to Know About the Future". BBC. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  28. ^ Daniel, Ellen (6 March 2020). "Hannah Fry: Data could help control UK coronavirus outbreak". Verdict. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
    - "Contagion! The BBC Four Pandemic". BBC. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  29. ^ a b Boyd, Alex (2 March 2020). "BBC programme faked virus 'pandemic' in Haslemere two years ago". SurreyLive. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  30. ^ "Size Matters". BBC Four. BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  31. ^ "BBC Four – Magic Numbers: Hannah Fry's Mysterious World of Maths". BBC. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  32. ^ Conlan, Tara (3 November 2018). "BBC to reboot Tomorrow's World for one-off live special". The Guardian.
  33. ^ "BBC Four – A Day in the Life of Earth". BBC. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  34. ^ "BBC Two – Horizon, 2019, The Honest Supermarket: What's Really in Our Food?". BBC. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  35. ^ "Christmas Lectures 2019: Secrets and lies". Royal Institution. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  36. ^ "Royal Institution Christmas Lectures". BBC Four. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  37. ^ "Horizon, 2020, The Great British Intelligence Test". BBC Two. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  38. ^ "Horizon, 2020, Coronavirus Special – Part 2". BBC Two. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  39. ^ "Can maths help us to beat the coronavirus?". BBC World Service. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  40. ^ "DeepMind: The Podcast - Seasons 1 & 2 - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  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. ^ "Have I Got News For You - Series 66, Episode 7". Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  43. ^ "BBC announces new documentary, Unvaccinated, with Professor Hannah Fry" (Press release). BBC Media Centre. 8 July 2022. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  44. ^ Singh, Anita (20 July 2022). "Unvaccinated, review: painfully patronising documentary treated vaccine sceptics as idiots". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  45. ^ Seale, Jack (20 July 2022). "Unvaccinated review – the most infuriating TV show of the year so far". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  46. ^ Philips, Cori (11 November 2022). "The Secret Genius of Modern Life". Hannah Fry. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  47. ^ "The Secret Genius of Modern Life". BBC Two. BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
    - "The Secret Genius of Modern Life - An OU/BBC co-production". Open University. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
    - "The Secret Genius Of Modern Life | Preview (BBC Two)". TV Zone UK. 28 October 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  48. ^ "BBC Two - The Secret Genius of Modern Life, Series 2, Passport". BBC. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  49. ^ "The Future With Hannah Fry". Bloomberg. 16 February 2023. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
    - "The Future With Hannah Fry". YouTube.
  50. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Uncharted with Hannah Fry". BBC.
  51. ^ "Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms". American Physics Society. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  52. ^ Rutherford, Adam; Fry, Hannah (13 October 2022). Rutherford and Fry's Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything (Abridged). Penguin.
  53. ^ "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.
  54. ^ "Hannah Fry is awarded 2018 Christopher Zeeman Medal". IMA. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  55. ^ "Quinta edizione - premio Asimov" (in Italian). Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  56. ^ "IET announces 16 Honorary Fellows to mark 150th year" (Press release). IET. Retrieved 27 July 2021.[dead link]
  57. ^ Mesure, Susie (27 November 2019). "Hannah Fry, the woman making maths cool". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  58. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (17 April 2023). "Hannah Fry: 'Mum wasn't focused on cooking. She'd boil sardines'". The Guardian.
  59. ^ a b Swerling, Hannah (8 July 2023). "Hannah Fry on her cervical cancer, divorce and Haribo for lunch". The Times. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  60. ^ Lewis, Isobel (2 June 2022). "Hannah Fry on making a Horizon documentary about her cancer". The Independent. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
    - Haran, Brady (29 May 2022). "The Orchid Room and Cancer (with Hannah Fry)". Numberphile Podcast. Retrieved 3 June 2022 – via YouTube.
  61. ^ "Curious Films preps BBC2 Hannah Fry documentary". Televisual. 26 April 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  62. ^ a b Medeiros, Joao. "When Not to Treat Cancer". Wired. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  63. ^ "BBC Two - Horizon, 2022, Making Sense of Cancer with Hannah Fry". BBC. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  64. ^ Varshavski, Doctor Mike (20 March 2023). "Hannah Fry - How Her Cancer Doctors Failed Her". YouTube. Retrieved 8 July 2023.

External links[edit]