Professor Marcus du Sautoy

Profile details


Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science


Professor du Sautoy has been involved in science at Oxford since 1983 when he first arrived as a mathematics undergraduate. He is a member of the University’s Mathematical Institute and is a Senior Media Fellow of the EPSRC. He was appointed to the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science in October 2008, a post that he holds jointly between the Department for Continuing Education and the Mathematical Institute.

In 2001, he won the Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society, which is awarded every two years to reward the best mathematical research by a mathematician under forty.

In December 2006 Professor du Sautoy delivered the 2006 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures under the collective title ‘The Num8er My5teries’.

In October 2008, Professor du Sautoy presented a four-part television series ‘The Story of Maths’ on BBC4 to popularise maths. Professor du Sautoy regularly writes for The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. He has written numerous academic articles and popular books on mathematics, including the bestseller ‘The Music of the Primes’, which was also televised on BBC4 in 2005. His latest book ‘Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry’ was published in February 2008. To read his latest blogs, please visit:

Research interests

Professor du Sautoy’s research interests include understanding the world of symmetry using zeta functions, a classical tool from number theory. His work uses a wide range of methods including p-adic Lie groups, model theory, algebraic geometry and analytic methods.

In 2009 Professor du Sautoy will co-host with Professors Dan Segal and Martin Bridston a five-day intensive workshop on group theory, number theory and geometry. This workshop aims to bring together a critical mass of about 25 leading researchers to explore several newly developing connections between their work, generating new synergies, and to chart attacks on the central problems of the day.


Scholarly Publications


Zeta Functions of Groups and Rings (Lecture Notes in Mathematics) (with L Woodward). Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co. KG (2007).

New Horizons in Pro-P Groups (Progress in Mathematics). (Co-editor with D Segal and A Shalev). Birkhäuser Boston; 1 edition (2000).

Analytic Pro-P Groups. (with JD Dixon, A Mann, D Segal). Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (1999).

Popular Science Books

The Num8er My5teries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life. Fourth Estate Ltd (May 2009).

Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry. (US title ‘Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature’). Fourth Estate Ltd (2008).

The Music of the Primes: Why an Unsolved Problem in Mathematics Matters. (US title ‘The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics’). Fourth Estate Ltd (2003).

Recent Research Articles

Recognising Z(p)[[t]]-Analytic Pro-P Groups (with R Camina). Math. Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc. 2006. 140(3):369-376.

Counting Conjugacy Classes. Bull. London Math. Soc. 2005; 37(1): 37-44.

Linearity of Z(p)[[t]]-Perfect Groups? (with R Camina). Geometriae Dedicata. 2004; 107(1):1-16.

Zeta Functions of Groups: Euler Products and Soluble Groups. Proc. Edinb. Math. Soc. 2002; 45(1): 149-154.

Polycyclic Groups, Analytic Groups and Algebraic Groups. Proc. London Math. Soc. 2002; 85:62-92.

Counting Subgroups in Nilpotent Groups and Points on Elliptic Curves. J. Reine Angew. Math. 2002; 549: 1-21.

Zeta Functions of Groups and their Ghost Zeta Functions (with F Grunewald). Amer. J. of Math. 2002; 124:1-48.

The Zeta Function of sl2 and Resolution of Singularities (with G Taylor). Math. Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc. 2002; 132:57-73.


Popular Science Website

The Music of the Primes. This EPSRC Partnerships in Public Engagement project created an exhibition, website and presentation about mathematics. See


Professor du Sautoy regularly gives popular lectures, television and radio interviews. His most recent popular science presentations include ‘Why Beckham chose the 23 shirt’ and ‘The Music of the Primes’, given to a wide range of audiences.

His TV and video work includes:

‘The Story of Maths’. A four-part landmark series for BBC4 about the history of maths, shown in October 2008.

‘Prime Numbers: The Atoms of Maths’. A 10-minute TV interview in 2007 for MathsReach, an outreach initiative of the New Zealand Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. Click here to view.

‘THE NUM8ER MY5TERIES’. The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2006. Staged at the IET and broadcast on Channel Five at 7:00pm on Christmas Day 2006 and for the following four days. There is a NUM8ER MY5TERIES website full of games, excerpts from the show and transcripts of the lectures.

‘Painting with Numbers’. Four 15-minute programmes in 2006 for Teachers TV directed by Alom Shaha. The programmes are available online.

‘The Music of the Primes’. A one-hour documentary written and presented by Professor du Sautoy, based on his book of the same name. First shown on BBC4 in September 2005, it has since been repeated on BBC4 and was shown on BBC2 in 2007. A website dedicated to the programme can be found here.

‘The Story of 1’. A BBC1 documentary, shown on 28th September 2005 just before the first showing of The Music of the Primes.

“If I Could Teach the World One Thing…”. A 4-minute short video about football and prime numbers, filmed with Alom Shaha and Spiked Magazine.

‘Mindgames’. Autumn 2004-Summer 2005. Presenter for the BBC4 game show that pitched celebrities against each other in a battle to crack a fiendish array of maths, science and word puzzles. Visit the BBC Mindgames Website to see some of the viewers puzzles. Nominated by the BBC for a Royal Television award 2005 for the best new-comer to a network.

‘Search for a Code the Breakers Can't Crack’. Video produced with Milestone Pictures of presentation for NCR.