Smith's Prize

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smith's Prize was the name of each of two prizes awarded annually to two research students in mathematics and theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1769.[1] Following the reorganization in 1998, they are now awarded under the names Smith-Knight Prize and Rayleigh-Knight Prize.


The Smith Prize fund was founded by bequest of Robert Smith upon his death in 1768, having by his will left £3,500 of South Sea Company stock to the University. Every year two or more junior Bachelor of Arts students who had made the greatest progress in mathematics and natural philosophy were to be awarded a prize from the fund. The prize was awarded every year from 1769 to 1998 except 1917.

From 1769 to 1885, the prize was awarded for the best performance in a series of examinations. In 1854 George Stokes included an examination question on a particular theorem that William Thomson had written to him about, which is now known as Stokes' theorem.[2] T. W. Körner notes

Only a small number of students took the Smith's prize examination in the nineteenth century. When Karl Pearson took the examination in 1879, the examiners were Stokes, Maxwell, Cayley, and Todhunter and the examinees went on each occasion to an examiner's dwelling, did a morning paper, had lunch there and continued their work on the paper in the afternoon.[3]

In 1885, the examination was renamed Part III, (now known as the Master of Advanced Study in Mathematics for students who studied outside of Cambridge before taking it) and the prize was awarded for the best submitted essay rather than examination performance. According to Barrow-Green

By fostering an interest in the study of applied mathematics, the competition contributed towards the success in mathematical physics that was to become the hallmark of Cambridge mathematics during the second half of the nineteenth century.[1]

In the twentieth century, the competition stimulated postgraduate research in mathematics in Cambridge and the competition has played a significant role by providing a springboard for graduates considering an academic career. The majority of prize-winners have gone on to become professional mathematicians or physicists.

The Rayleigh Prize was an additional prize, which was awarded for the first time in 1911.

The Smith's and Rayleigh prizes were only available to Cambridge graduate students who had been undergraduates at Cambridge. The J.T. Knight Prize was established in 1974 for Cambridge graduates who had been undergraduates at other universities. The prize commemorates J.T. Knight (1942–1970), who had been an undergraduate student at Glasgow and a graduate student at Cambridge. He was killed in a motor car accident in Ireland in April 1970.

J.T. Knight

Value of the prizes[edit]

Originally, in 1769, the prizes were worth £25 each and remained at that level for 100 years. In 1867, they fell to £23 and in 1915 were still reported to be worth that amount.[citation needed] By 1930, the value had risen to about £30, and by 1940, the value had risen by a further one pound to £31. By 1998, a Smith's Prize was worth around £250.[1]

In 2007, the value of the three prize funds was roughly £175,000.[4]

Reorganization of prizes[edit]

In 1998 the Smith Prize, Rayleigh Prize and J. T. Knight Prize were replaced by the Smith-Knight Prize and Rayleigh-Knight Prize,[5] the standard for the former being higher than that required for the latter.

Smith's Prize recipients[edit]

For the period up to 1940 a complete list is given in Barrow-Green (1999) including titles of prize essays from 1889 to 1940. The following includes a selection from this list.

Awarded for examination performance[edit]

Awarded for essay[edit]

Rayleigh Prize recipients[edit]

A more complete list of Rayleigh prize recipients is given in Appendix 1 ("List of Prize Winners and their Essays 1885–1940") of[1]

J. T. Knight Prize recipients[edit]

Smith–Knight Prize recipients[edit]

  • 1999 D. W. Essex, H. S. Reall, A. Saikia, A. C. Faul, Duncan C. Richer, M. J. Vartiainen, T. A. Fisher, J. Rosenzweig, J. Wierzba and J. B. Gutowski[50][51]
  • 2001 B. J. Green, T A. Mennim, A. Mijatovic, F. A. Dolan, Paul D. Metcalfe and S. R. Tod
  • 2002 Konstantin Ardakov,[52] Edward Crane[53] and Simon Wadsley[54]
  • 2004 Neil Roxburgh[55]
  • 2005 David Conlon[56]
  • 2008 Miguel Paulos
  • 2009 Olga Goulko
  • 2010 Miguel Custódio
  • 2011 Ioan Manolescu
  • 2014 Bhargav P. Narayanan[57]
  • 2018 Theodor Bjorkmo, Muntazir Abidi, Amelia Drew, Leong Khim Wong
  • 2020 Jef Laga, Kasia Warburton, Daniel Zhang, Shayan Iranipour
  • 2021 David Gwilym Baker, Hannah Banks, Jason Joykutty, Andreas Schachner, Mohammed Rifath Khan Shafi [58]

Rayleigh–Knight Prize recipients[edit]

  • 1999 C. D. Bloor, R. Oeckl, J. Y. Whiston, Y-C. Chen, P. L. Rendon, C. Wunderer, J. H. P. Dawes, D. M. Rodgers, H-M. Gutmann and A. N. Ross
  • 2001 A. F. R. Bain, S. Khan, S. Schafer-Nameki, N. R. Farr, J. Niesen, J. H. Siggers, M. Fayers, D. Oriti, M. J. Tildesley, J. R. Gair, M. R. E. H. Pickles, A. J. Tolley, S. R. Hodges, R. Portugues, C. Voll, M. Kampp, P. J. P. Roche and B. M. J. B. Walker[59]
  • 2004 Oliver Rinne
  • 2005 Guillaume Pierre Bascoul and Giuseppe Di Graziano
  • 2007 Anders Hansen[60] and Vladimir Lazić

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Barrow-Green, June (1999), "A Corrective to the Spirit of too Exclusively Pure Mathematics: Robert Smith (1689–1768) and his Prizes at Cambridge University", Annals of Science, 56 (3): 271–316, doi:10.1080/000337999296418
  2. ^ Katz, Victor (May 1979). "A History of Stokes' Theorem". Mathematics Magazine. 52 (3): 146–156. doi:10.1080/0025570X.1979.11976770. JSTOR 2690275.
  3. ^ Discussion on the establishment of a degree of Master of Mathematics and a degree of Master of Advanced Study, Cambridge University, 28 January 2009, archived from the original on 2 September 2009, retrieved 30 April 2009
  4. ^ Cambridge University Trust Funds p.34
  5. ^ Reporter 11/11/98: Graces submitted to the Regent House on 11 November 1998
  6. ^ Adams biography
  7. ^ Todhunter biography
  8. ^[bare URL PDF]
  9. ^ Routh biography
  10. ^ Macdonald biography
  11. ^ The senior wranglers of the University of Cambridge, from 1748 to 1907
  12. ^ Hardy biography
  13. ^ Cunningham biography
  14. ^ Bateman biography Archived 29 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Mercer biography
  16. ^ Turnbull biography
  17. ^ Berwick biography
  18. ^ .Obituary Notices : Livens, George Henry, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 111, p.159 Bibliographic Code: 1951MNRAS.111..159 [1]
  19. ^ Mordell biography
  20. ^ Obituary, Professor Sydney Chapman, An outstanding mathematical physicist, The Times [2]
  21. ^ Cook, Alan [rev.], "Jeffreys, Sir Harold (1891–1989)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, September 2004. Retrieved 11 January 2023. (subscription required)
  22. ^ Ince biography
  23. ^ Dauben, Joseph W.; Parikh, Rohit (2010). "Beginnings of modern mathematics in India". Current Science. 99 (3): 15–37. JSTOR 24108277.
  24. ^ Ingham biography
  25. ^ Milne biography
  26. ^ Burkill biography
  27. ^ Whittaker_John biography
  28. ^ Todd biography
  29. ^[bare URL PDF]
  30. ^ Cambridge University Reporter, 5 March 1952, Awards, p865
  31. ^ Cambridge University Reporter, 13 March 1957, Awards, p982
  32. ^ Ian Hacking Home Page
  33. ^ Kingman biography
  34. ^ Professor Stephen Watson's biography on the Emmanuel College website
  35. ^ Gordon James
  36. ^ Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences
  37. ^ "Andrew Ranicki".
  38. ^ SPE AbuDhabi Section Archived 14 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Personal, Gordon Ogilvie, retrieved 8 July 2009
  40. ^ Cambridge University Reporter 22/4/98: Awards
  41. ^ Mehra, Jagdish; Rechenberg, Helmut (2000), The Historical Development of Quantum Theory: The Fundamental Equations of Quantum Mechanics 1925–1926 : The Reception of the Quantum Mechanics 1925–1926, Springer, p. 54, ISBN 0-387-95178-4
  42. ^ William Hunter McCrea Biography, The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, retrieved 14 June 2009
  43. ^ Davenport biography
  44. ^ Assa Historical Section Archived 25 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Koshy, Thomas (2004), Discrete mathematics with applications, Academic Press, p. 571, ISBN 0-12-421180-1
  46. ^ Staff Details Archived 15 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ Susan Stepney's mini CV
  48. ^ "Cameron L. Stewart | Publications in seminar proceedings". Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  49. ^ Frank Kelly's CV
  50. ^ Reporter 21/4/99: Awards
  51. ^ Queens' College Record 2000 Archived 25 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  52. ^[permanent dead link]
  53. ^[permanent dead link]
  54. ^ Jesus College Annual Report 2005 Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine p.13
  55. ^[permanent dead link]
  56. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  57. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  58. ^ "Faculty Bulletins | Internal Resources".
  59. ^ Cambridge University Reporter
  60. ^ Anders Hansen