Matt Parker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Matt Parker
Matt Parker at Nine lessons and Carols for Godless People.jpg
Matthew Thomas Parker

(1980-12-22) 22 December 1980 (age 40)
Perth, Western Australia
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia
OccupationMathematics author and communicator
Known for
(m. 2014)
YouTube information
  • Education
  • comedy
Total views86.9 million[1]
Associated acts
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2016

Updated: 16 May 2021

Matthew Thomas Parker (born 22 December 1980[2][3]) is an Australian[4] recreational mathematician, author, comedian, YouTube personality and science communicator. His book Humble Pi was the first maths book in the UK to be a Sunday Times #1 bestseller. Parker was the Public Engagement in Mathematics Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.[5] He is a former maths teacher and has helped popularise maths via his tours and videos.

Early life and education[edit]

Matt Parker was born in Perth, Australia.[6]:77 He was interested in maths and science before he went to school. Parker was part of his school's titration team.[7][8]

Parker went to the University of Western Australia and started off studying mechanical engineering before he "realized the very real risk of being employable at the end of it." He switched into physics and later mathematics. His love of maths led him to want a job in the subject.[2]

While at university, Parker wrote comedy for Pelican, the students' magazine, and produced comedy sketches. Having found a delight for comedy, he enrolled in a course for stand-up comedy.[9]


Parker speaking at QED in 2016

After college, Parker taught maths in Australia for a while before moving to London and continuing teaching. He became involved in support education, working with universities and other organizations to arrange maths talks. He later went back to teaching, before stopping after one year. He now helps students communicate mathematics to other people, speaks at schools, does media work, and occasionally writes about maths. His goal is "to get more people more excited about maths."[2]

Parker has appeared in numerous YouTube videos, talking about various subjects related to mathematics. He has his own YouTube channel, "Stand-up Maths", with over 850,000 subscribers,[10] and also frequently appears as a guest on other popular channels such as Brady Haran's Numberphile[11] and James May's "BritLab|Head Squeeze" (now BritLab). Parker has made videos about unboxing calculators, including the Little Professor; he presents these videos as a member of a fictional "Calculator Appreciation Society".[8][12] He also appeared in a Tom Scott YouTube video, where they gave tips for users of the London Underground.[13]

Parker has toured the UK, both solo and as part of comedy group Festival of the Spoken Nerd, along with Helen Arney and Steve Mould.[8] His first solo tour, Matt Parker: Number Ninja, finished in July 2013,[14] while his second solo tour, "Matt Parker: Now in 4D", started in late 2014.[15]

He has written the book Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension.[16][17] His second book, Humble Pi, was released in March 2019 and was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller.[18][19]

In 2014, Parker set up Think Maths, a team of experienced mathematics speakers who visit schools to run workshops and give talks for a wide range of ages and abilities, to show students the wider world of maths beyond school while giving them a chance to develop mathematical thinking skills.[20]

Parker is a regular on BBC Radio Four's Infinite Monkey Cage with Robin Ince and Brian Cox. He has also talked about maths-related topics on BBC News, Sky News, Channel4, CBBC, and occasionally writes for The Guardian.[21] On TV, Parker is a regular commentator on Discovery's Outrageous Acts of Science.[22] For the 2019 edition of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, televised on BBC Four, Parker assisted presenter Hannah Fry in several segments.[23]

In October 2017, Parker started a petition to "Update the UK Traffic Signs Regulations to a geometrically correct football." In a YouTube video, he explained why the current football shape on traffic signs is incorrect and geometrically impossible. Parker described the current signs as a "national embarrassment" and said he hopes the petition will "help raise public awareness and appreciation of geometry." Parker discussed the issue on You Can't Polish A Nerd. According to him, the government initially dismissed the petition because he is a comedian. By November 2017, the petition had gained over 22,000 signatures. The UK government has responded by saying "the current football symbol has a clear meaning and is understood by the public. Changing the design to show accurate geometry is not appropriate in this context." Parker said he felt "like the Department for Transport had not read the petition properly". The official response stated it would be too costly to replace the current signs; however, Parker said he only asked for a "precedent for the new signs". In regards to the exact geometry of a football, Parker said he is "not asking for angles and measurements on the sign, just for it to look more like a football".[24][25][22][26][27][28]

Together with another YouTube mathematics populariser, Vi Hart, Parker won the 2018 Communications Award of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics for "communicating the excitement of mathematics to a worldwide audience through YouTube videos, TV and radio appearances, book and newspaper writings, and stand-up comedy".[29]

Recreational mathematics contributions[edit]

Parker introduced the recreational mathematics concept of a grafting number, an integer with the property that the square root of the integer, when expressed in base b, will contain the original integer itself before or directly after the decimal point (sequence A232087 in the OEIS).[30][31][32]

Parker attempted to create a 3x3 magic square using square numbers.[33] His attempt shown below is not a precise magic square because it has some numbers more than once and because the diagonal 232-372-472 does not sum to 3051, unlike every other row, column and diagonal. It has therefore been dubbed the Parker Square, which became a "mascot for people who give it a go, but ultimately fall short".[33] It is also a metaphor for something that is almost right, but is a little off; and has become something of a meme on his YouTube channel.[33][34]

292 12 472
412 372 12
232 412 292
841 1 2209
1681 1369 1
529 1681 841

At the 2016 MathsJam Conference, Parker talked about what he called "letterwise magic squares". He believed he was the first to find the magic squares, but on 5 May 2017 he posted a video to explain how the magic squares were more well known as alphamagic squares.[35][36]

At a 2018 statistics conference hosted by the Royal Statistics Society, Parker attempted to demonstrate basic population estimation techniques such as capture-recapture with the attendees of the conference.[37][relevant?]

Personal life[edit]

Parker married solar physicist Lucie Green in July 2014. The couple used wedding rings made of meteoric iron.[8] He now lives in Godalming, England.[38]


  • Parker, Matt (2015). Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician's Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algorithms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity, and More. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-53563-6.
  • Parker, Matt (2019). Humble Pi. Allen Lane. ISBN 9780241360231.


  1. ^ a b "About Stand-up Maths". YouTube.
  2. ^ a b c Parker, Matthew (24 April 2014). Clutching at Random Straws. LMS Popular Lecture Series 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2016 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Parker, Matthew (29 June 2015). Why 1980 was a great year to be born... but 2184 will be better. Retrieved 30 October 2016 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ Parker, Matthew (18 January 2016). Australian Bank Notes are the Best in the World. Stand-up Maths. Retrieved 30 October 2016 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ Parker, Matthew (2 December 2014). Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. Talks at Google. Retrieved 30 October 2016 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ Parker, Matt (2019). Humble Pi. Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0-241-36019-4. OCLC 1090809917.
  7. ^ Titration team here refers to the NSW Schools Titration Competition.
  8. ^ a b c d Usborne, Simon (30 October 2014). ""Stand-up mathematician" Matt Parker is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences". The Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  9. ^ Haran, Brady J.; Parker, Matthew (24 February 2019). Parker Square (with Matt Parker). Numberphile Podcast. Retrieved 21 September 2019 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ Matt Parker's channel on YouTube
  11. ^ "Videos about Numbers and Stuff". Archived from the original on 11 October 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Unboxings". South Surrey And Associated Regions Calculator Appreciation Society for Professionals and Amateurs. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  13. ^ Smith, Patrick (12 March 2015). "25 Essential Tube Hacks From Londoners". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  14. ^ Steckles, Katie (30 April 2013). "Matt Parker: Number Ninja". The Aperiodical. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Matt Parker". Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  16. ^ Parker, Matt. "Things To Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension | Books | Janklow & Nesbit". Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension (Book Review)". Blog Network. Scientific American. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Humble Pi". Penguin Books. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  19. ^ Parker, Matt. "Humble Pi". Janklow & Nesbit. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Welcome | Think Maths". Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Matt Parker". The Guardian. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  22. ^ a b "News: Nerd Sets Up Petition To Change Shape Of Road Signs". Beyond The Joke. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  23. ^ "Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, 2019: Secrets & Lies". BBC Four. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  24. ^ Fisher, Megan (31 October 2017). "New signing? Fan kicks off over football". BBC News. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  25. ^ Parker, Matt (9 October 2017). All UK football road signs are wrong! Join the petition for geometric change!. Stand-up Maths. Retrieved 23 October 2017 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ "The government is about to talk balls". Punching Up 2017. Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  27. ^ Hall, Kat (10 October 2017). "Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs". Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Someone's started an incredibly serious petition on football signage and you need to sign it". 8 October 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Vi Hart and Matt Parker to Receive 2018 JPBM Communications Awards", News, Events and Announcements, American Mathematical Society, 8 December 2017
  30. ^ Haran, Brady J. (20 January 2012). 98 and Grafting Numbers. Numberphile. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ Parker, Matt (2 December 2014). Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician's Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algorithms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity, and More. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 62, 63. ISBN 978-0-374-71037-8.
  32. ^ Tanniru, Robert (November 2015). "A short note introducing Grafting Numbers and their connection to Catalan Numbers". Journal of Combinatorial Mathematics and Combinatorial Computing. Charles Babbage Research Centre. 95: 309–312. ISSN 0835-3026 – via ResearchGate.
  33. ^ a b c Parker, Matt; Haran, Brady J. (18 April 2016). The Parker Square. Numberphile. Retrieved 30 October 2016 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ Haran, Brady. "The Parker Square" (blog). Brady Haran Blog. Retrieved 17 December 2016. The Parker Square is a mascot for people who give it a go but ultimately fall short.
  35. ^ Parker, Matt. MathsJam 2016: Letterwise Magic Squares. Stand-up Maths. Retrieved 25 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  36. ^ Parker, Matt. Alphamagic vs Letterwise Magic Squares. Stand-up Maths. Retrieved 25 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  37. ^ Parker, Matt (15 October 2018). How to estimate a population using statisticians. Stand-up Maths. Retrieved 16 October 2018 – via YouTube.
  38. ^ Parker, Matt (2014). Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. Penguin UK. p. 6.

External links[edit]