Lucasian Professor of Mathematics

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The Lucasian Chair of Mathematics is a mathematics professorship in the University of Cambridge, England; its holder is known as the Lucasian Professor. The post was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas, who was Cambridge University's Member of Parliament from 1639–1640; and it was officially established by King Charles II on 18 January 1664. It was described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the most prestigious academic posts in the world[1] and its former holders include Isaac Newton, Joseph Larmor, Charles Babbage, George Stokes, Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking.

History of the Chair[edit]

Lucas, in his will, bequeathed his library of 4,000 volumes to the university and left instruction for the purchase of land whose yielding should provide £100 a year for the founding of a professorship.[2]


The current and 19th Lucasian Professor is Michael Cates, succeeding Michael Green now retired, starting from 1 July 2015.[3] The previous holder of the post was the theoretical physicist Michael Green who was a fellow in Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge. He was appointed in October 2009,[4] succeeding Stephen Hawking, who himself retired in September 2009, in the year of his 67th birthday, as required by the University.[5] Hawking and Green now hold the position of Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

List of Lucasian Professors[edit]

# Year of appointment Portrait Name Speciality Tenure (years)
1 1663 Isaac Barrow.jpg Isaac Barrow
(1630 – 1677)
Classics and mathematics 6
2 1669 GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689.jpg Isaac Newton
(1642 – 1726)
Mathematics and physics 33
3 1702 WilliamWhiston.jpg William Whiston
(1667 – 1752)
Mathematics 9
4 1711 Nicolas Saunderson.jpg Nicholas Saunderson
(1682 – 1739)
Mathematics 28
5 1739 Johncolson.gif John Colson
(1680 – 1760)
Mathematics 21
6 1760 Edwardwaring.jpg Edward Waring
(1736 – 1798)
Mathematics 38
7 1798 Isaac-Milner.gif Isaac Milner
(1750 – 1820)
Mathematics and chemistry 22
8 1820 No image.png Robert Woodhouse
(1773 – 1827)
Mathematics 2
9 1822 Thomas Turton by HW Pickersgill.jpg Thomas Turton
(1780 – 1864)
Mathematics 4
10 1826 George Biddell Airy 1891.jpg George Biddell Airy
(1801 – 1892)
Astronomy 2
11 1828 Charles Babbage - 1860.jpg Charles Babbage
(1791 – 1871)
Mathematics and computing 11
12 1839 Joshua-King.gif Joshua King
(1798 – 1857)
Mathematics 10
13 1849 Ggstokes.jpg George Gabriel Stokes
(1819 – 1903)
Physics and fluid mechanics 54
14 1903 No image.png Joseph Larmor
(1857 – 1942)
Physics 29
15 1932 Dirac 4.jpg Paul Dirac
(1902 – 1984)
Physics 37
16 1969 Lighthill 3.jpeg James Lighthill
(1924 – 1998)
Fluid mechanics 10
17 1979 Stephen Hawking.StarChild.jpg Stephen Hawking
(born 1942)
Theoretical physics and cosmology 30
18 2009 No image.png Michael Green
(born 1946)
Theoretical physics 6
19 2015 Mike-cates.jpg Michael Cates
(born 1961)
Statistical mechanics of soft condensed matter current

Cultural references[edit]

In the final episode of the science-fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of the main characters, the android Lieutenant Commander Data, holds the Lucasian Chair in the late 24th century.[6][7][8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Michael Green to become Lucasian Professor of Mathematics". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "A Brief History of The Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge University." Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  3. ^ "Cambridge University Reporter No 6380". 18 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  4. ^ http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/2009/10/stephen-hawkings-successor-as-lucasian-professor-of-mathematics-michael-green.html Archived 18 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Hawking gives up academic title". BBC News. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  6. ^ Orrman-Rossiter, Kevin. "From Newton to Hawking and beyond: a short history of the Lucasian Chair". The Conversation. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  7. ^ "Michael Zaslow, First "Redshirt" on Star Trek, The Original Series, Died 11 Years Ago from ALS.". The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  8. ^ "Video: How String Theory scaled up". phys.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 

References[edit]

  • Kevin Knox and Richard Noakes, From Newton to Hawking: A History of Cambridge University's Lucasian Professors of Mathematics ISBN 0-521-66310-5