Mathematics at Merton
Mathematics is amongst the largest and oldest schools in Merton, with a long and illustrious history dating nearly all the way back to the foundation of the college in 1264. Over the past several centuries Merton has been home not only to many extremely famous mathematicians - the most prominent of whom include Sir Henry Savile, the founder of the Savilian chairs of Geometry and Astronomy, and more recently Sir Andrew Wiles, acclaimed for his proof of Fermat's last theorem - but also to numerous others, who, although they may be less well known, nonetheless made significant contributions to the development of mathematics and built important foundations on which later influential mathematicians built. These included the so-called ‘Merton Calculators’, who in the 14th century made important advances in kinematics long before a more general and widely accepted theory was introduced, and Henry Briggs, notable for his development of Napier's logarithm.
Current undergraduates studying mathematics at Merton have been working on a project to explore the discoveries of Merton’s mathematicians, so if you’re interested in finding out more about these fascinating people and their work, then follow the links below to articles researched and written by some of our students!
- The Merton Calculators (14th century)
- Henry Savile (16/17th century)
- Henry Briggs (17th century)
- Arthur Lee Dixon (19/20th century)
- William Esson (19/20th century)
- Robert May (20/21st century)
- Andrew Wiles and Fermat's Last Theorem
- Ehud Hrushovski (Interview)
- Martin Taylor (Interview)
- Boris Zilber (Interview)
Merton’s mathematical significance is not confined to history books and archives - mathematics at Merton continues to flourish and shows no signs of stopping! Aside from Professor Sir Andrew Wiles, current eminent mathematicians at Merton include Professor Ulrike Tillmann, an expert in Topology; Emeritus Professor of Logic Boris Zilber; Professor Artur Ekert, a specialist in quantum computation, and Emeritus Professor Dominic Welsh, an expert in discrete mathematics who has written several books for undergraduates on cryptography, codes, complexity and knots. Biological applications of mathematics are represented in the work of Professor Béla Novák and the late Professor Robert May, The Lord May of Oxford.