Gresham Lectures

Gresham College in London has been presenting mathematics lectures to the public since 1598, when Henry Briggs (co-inventor of logarithms) was appointed the first Gresham Professor of Geometry. Later holders of that Chair have included Isaac Barrow, Robert Hooke, and more recently Sir Christopher Zeeman, Ian Stewart and Sir Roger Penrose. The current position now covers all areas of mathematics, not just geometry.

In 2007, the Society and Gresham College established a yearly joint lecture with the Society providing the speakers while Gresham provides the attractive venue and covers the costs of the lecture and a reception. These events are usually held in May.

The 2017 lecture will be given by Dr Carola-Bibiane Schonlieb titled Mathematics Can Make You Fly 

The lecture will be held on Tuesday 23rd May 2017 at 6:00pm at the Museum of London


Past lectures (video and transcripts available)

2016, Mathematics, Measurement and Money
Professor Norman Biggs (LSE)
Throughout its brief history, mathematics has been closely linked with measurement and money. In the ancient settlements the rules of arithmetic and geometry were used to solve problems about the allocation of food and resources. When life became more complex, the use of coined money led to computational problems that required good algorithms for their solution.

Nowadays we rely on mathematics for security, and the links between information and money have become blurred. Can mathematics keep us safe?

2015, Geometry: A New Weapon in the Fight Against Viruses
Professor Reidun Twarock (University of York)
Viruses like the common cold look like tiny footballs and mathematics can therefore help to understand how they form and evolve. Our highly interdisciplinary approach in understanding and combating viruses, in which mathematics plays a key role, provides surprising new avenues in our fight against viral disease.

2014, The Secret Mathematicians
Professor Marcus du  Sautoy,OBE (University of Oxford)
From composers to painters, writers to choreographers, the mathematician’s palette of shapes, patterns and numbers has proved a powerful inspiration. Artists can be subconsciously drawn to the same structures that fascinate mathematicians as they hunt for interesting new structures to frame their creative process. 

Professor du Sautoy will explore the hidden mathematical ideas that underpin the creative output of well-known artists and reveal that the work of the mathematician is also driven by strong aesthetic values.

2013, Mathematics, the Next Generation
Professor Peter Cameron (Queen Mary, University of London)
Mathematics is important to us all.  So it is important to enable young mathematicians, clear-thinking and passionate about their subject, to contribute at the highest level.  Peter Cameron spoke about his experience designing and presenting a course for first-semester university students aiming to produce mathematicians.

2012, Home Office Mathematics
Professor Bernard Silverman (Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office)
'The Chief Scientific Adviser is the head of Home Office Science, which provides scientific advice and support to the whole range of the Home Office's work as the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime, counter-terrorism and police. Many aspects of our scientific work involve mathematics, and in this talk a selection will be presented. These show not only how mathematics is used by one particular government department, but also how wide is the range of topics where mathematical thinking and methods are important. '

2011, Undecidable and Decidable Problems in Mathematics
Professor Angus Macintyre (Queen Mary, University of London)
'What are the limits of proof, and what follows? – A timely look at the life and mathematical work of Alan Turing. As we approach the centenary of his birth, this lecture offers a chance to learn more about perhaps Britain’s most famous modern mathematician. '

2010, Indra’s Pearls:Geometry and Symmetry
Professor Caroline Series (University of Warwick)
'A Buddhist myth describes the heaven of Indra as containing a net of pearls, each of which was reflected in its neighbour, so that the whole Universe was mirrored in each pearl. Join Caroline Series on the path from basic mathematical ideas to simple algorithms whose repetition creates delicate fractal filigrees which are only now beginning to be fully explored.'

2009, Mathematics and Smallpox
Professor Tom Körner (University of Cambridge)
'250 years ago Daniel Bernoulli used mathematics and statistics to try to weigh the risks and benefits of inoculation against smallpox. The arguments of Bernoulli and his critics still remain relevant today.'

2008, Cancer can give you Maths!
Professor Philip Maini (University of Oxford)
'Verbal reasoning alone cannot be used to understand the outcome of the complex interactions that typically comprise biological function, so more and more researchers are turning to mathematical and computational modelling to gain insights on experimental results. Some approaches and advances will be illustrated concerning understanding the basic dynamics of solid tumour growth.'

2007, Multiplying and dividing whole numbers: why it is more difficult than you might think
Professor Timothy Gowers (University of Cambridge)

2006, Can maths catch criminals and bring them to justice?
Professor Chris Budd (University of Bath)
' Mathematical techinques lie at the heart of modern forensic methods for investigating crime and bringing the criminal to justice. Across all fields of crime detection and analysis, we encounter a rich range of applications of mathematical, statistical and probabilistic methods. This talk showed a broad range of mathematical and statistical methods used to bring the criminal to justice.'