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 56)[1][2]
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 and author of popular science books. 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 to Bernard du Sautoy, employed in the computer industry, and Jennifer du Sautoy, who left the Foreign Office to raise her children.[1][11] He grew up in Henley-on-Thames. His grandfather, Peter du Sautoy (1912–1995), was chairman of the publisher Faber and Faber, and managed the estates of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.[12][11][13] Du Sautoy 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. In 1991 he completed a doctorate in mathematics on discrete groups, analytic groups and Poincaré series, supervised by Dan Segal.[3]

Career and research[edit]

Mathematical research[edit]

Marcus du Sautoy in 2007

According to the Royal Society, his research "uses classical tools from number theory to explore the mathematics of symmetry".[14] Du Sautoy's academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory.[15]

Popularisation of mathematics[edit]

Du Sautoy is known for his work popularising mathematics, and has been named by The Independent on Sunday as one of the UK's leading scientists. He is also on the advisory board of (an online maths game website).

On radio[edit]

Du Sautoy is a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4's In Our Time programme.

In print[edit]

Du Sautoy has written for The Times and The Guardian. Du Sautoy has also written numerous academic articles and books on mathematics, the most recent being an exploration of the current state of creativity in artificial intelligence, The Creativity Code.[16]

In a 2006 article published in Seed magazine, du Sautoy discussed the Hilbert-Pólya conjecture, a way for advances in quantum physics to provide insight into the Riemann hypothesis.[17]

On TV[edit]

Among many other programmes, Du Sautoy presented the BBC Four television programme Mind Games and co-hosted the TV series School of Hard Sums with Dara Ó Briain. On the latter show, he posed mathematical questions with real-world applications. Ó Briain and a guest then tried to solve the problems, using rigorous and experimental methods, respectively.

In December 2006, du Sautoy delivered the 2006 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures under the collective title The Num8er My5teries.[18] 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 Music of the Primes (Fourth Estate, 2003, ISBN 9780062064011)
  • Finding Moonshine (UK title, Fourth Estate, 2007, ISBN 9780007380879)
  • Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature (US title, 2008, ISBN 9780060789411)
  • The Num8er My5teries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life (Fourth Estate, 2010, ISBN 9780007362561)
  • What We Cannot Know (Fourth Estate, 2016, ISBN 9780007576593)
  • The Great Unknown: Seven Journeys to the Frontiers of Science (Viking, 2017, ISBN 9780007576579)[19][20]
  • The Creativity Code: How AI Is Learning to Write, Paint and Think (Harper Colin Publishers Australia, 2019, ISBN 9780008296346)[21]
  • Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut (HarperCollins UK, 2021, ISBN 9780008393939)

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),[18] five lectures about the great unsolved problems of mathematics.
  • The Story of Maths (BBC Four, 2008)[22] 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 a 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".[23] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society[24] and in 2016 a Fellow of the Royal Society.[14]

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] They have three children, who are being raised Jewish.[11][25][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 with his predecessor in the post, Professor Richard Dawkins.[26] He has described his own religion as being "Arsenal – football", as he sees religion as wanting to belong to a community.[27] Du Sautoy is a supporter of Common Hope, an organisation that helps people in Guatemala.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h 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. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (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. ^ a b c "My family values". 11 September 2009.
  12. ^ "OBITUARY:Peter du Sautoy". 23 October 2011.
  13. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/59125. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  14. ^ a b Anon (2016). "Professor Marcus du Sautoy OBE FRS". London: Royal Society. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  15. ^ Sautoy, M. (2000). "Counting p-groups and nilpotent groups". Publications Mathématiques de l'Institut des Hautes Scientifiques. 92 (1): 63–112. doi:10.1007/BF02698914. S2CID 53584050.
  16. ^ Wolf, Jonnie (12 March 2019). "The Creativity Code by Marcus du Sautoy – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  17. ^ du Sautoy, Marcus (27 March 2006). "Prime Numbers Get Hitched". Seed. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2008.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  18. ^ a b "The Num8er My5teries". Royal Institution. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Review of The Great Unknown". Kirkus Reviews. 22 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Review of The Great Unknown". Publishers Weekly. 20 February 2017.
  21. ^ Olszewski, Peter (20 October 2019). "Review of The Creativity Code". MAA Reviews, Mathematical Association of America.
  22. ^ "Maths and me: The presenter's story". OpenLearn. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  23. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 9.
  24. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  25. ^ "How Jewish is Marcus Du Sautoy?". The Jewish Chronicle. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  26. ^ Jha, Alok (28 October 2008). "Science Extra: Marcus du Sautoy steps into Dawkins' boots". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Parsons, Paul (29 November 2008). "Interview with Marcus du Sautoy". New Scientist.

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