Popular Lectures

The London Mathematical Society Popular Lectures present exciting topics in mathematics and its applications to a wide audience. The LMS Popular Lectures usually feature two lecturers who have been chosen for their mathematical distinction and communication skills. The Society aims to present a wide range of mathematical topics in the lectures, which are suitable for all who have an interest in mathematics.

The Popular Lectures are a free annual event held during either June or July in London and repeated in late September at another venue in the UK. For the past few years this has been Birmingham. 


To mark the London Mathematical Society's 150th Anniversary, four popular lectures will be held in 2015. In addition to lectures in London and Birmingham, popular lectures will also take place in Leeds and Glasgow.



The 2015 Popular Lecturers are:


Professor Martin Hairer, FRS - University of Warwick


Professor Ben Green, FRS - University of Oxford


Dr Ruth King - University of St Andrews


Dr Hannah Fry - University College London


Dr Colva Roney-Dougal - University of St Andrews




London (Logan Hall, Institute of Education) was held on 25 June at 7pm. The speakers were Professor Martin Hairer and Dr Ruth King. 


Birmingham (Bramall Music Building, University of Birmingham) on 23 September at 6.30pm. The speakers will be Professor Ben Green and Professor Martin Hairer. 

Registration has now closed as the Birmingham event is full.

A map is available here (the lecture will take place in building R12 on the map)


Glasgow (Main Auditorium, Technology and Innovation Centre, University of Strathclyde) on 21 October at 6.30pm. The speakers will be Dr Colva Roney-Dougal and Dr Ruth King. 

Register here.

A map is available here (the lecture will take place in building 37 on the map)


Leeds (The Great Hall, University of Leeds) on 11th November at 6.30pm. The speakers will be Dr Hannah Fry and Professor Ben Green. 

Register here.

A map is available here (the lecture will take place in building 4 on the map.


Attendees are asked to register online if possible.

If you are not able to use the online system, please complete a registration form and send it to the Society. Those registering school groups should use the paper form.



Professor Martin Hairer, FRS Regius Professor of Mathematics, University of Warwick

The mathematics of randomness

From the gambling machines in a casino to the predictions of next week's weather, the world that surrounds us is governed by seemingly random events. How do mathematicians make sense of this and what does it even mean to 'predict' something inherently random? We will explore these questions and see what are the main guiding principles of our modern understanding of randomness.

Along the way we will see how the works of an 18th century egyptologist and a 19th century biologist allow today's banks to model the stock market.

Dr Ruth King, Reader in Statistics, University of St Andrews (from 1st September, the Thomas Bayes Chair of Statistics at the University of Edinburgh)

How many...? (Estimating population sizes)

The question of "How many...?" arises in many different fields. For many applications, however, it is not possible to simply count the members of the population of interest. For such cases I will discuss mathematical tools that can be applied to provide an estimate of the total population size. Applications range from the number of webpages on the Internet on a given topic or the number of bugs in a computer code to the number of drug addicts or animals in a given area.

Professor Ben Green, FRS, Waynflete Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford

A good new millennium for prime numbers

The prime numbers 2,3,5,7,11... are the building blocks of arithmetic and have been studied by mathematicians for around 2500 years. While the primes remain mysterious, mathematicians have made a lot of progress in the 21st century. The talk will endeavour to describe some of this progress and to explain why studying prime numbers is hard. 

Dr Hannah Fry, Lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London

Patterns in human behaviour

We all like to think of ourselves as strong, independent and single-minded individuals. But despite our illusion of free will, most of the time we find ourselves swept along by the actions of those around us. The hidden connections between us can be used to understand the mathematics of friendships and even to catch criminals. Hannah takes you on a whistlestop tour of how the patterns in our behaviour make us surprisingly predictable.

Dr Colva Roney-Dougal, Reader in Pure Mathematics, University of St Andrews

Party Hard! The Maths of Connections

How many guests need to come to a party, to guarantee that either at least five of them all know each other or at least five are mutual strangers? This question turns out to be surprisingly hard to solve, and has led to the creation of some maths that feels more like a newspaper puzzle than real work. We'll explore connections ranging from friendship, through marriage, to the spread of disease. Along the way we'll see some peculiar tricks infinity plays on us, and find some unexpected links between mathematicians and Hollywood stars. 


Popular Lectures Mailing List

If you would like to be included on the Popular Lectures mailing list, please email education@lms.ac.uk.