The Secret Mathematicians

BBC Radio 3

In a series of five essays, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy untangles the fascinating maths hidden beneath the surface of some of our great contemporary and historical works of art.

One of the first maths books that Marcus remembers reading, aged 12, was A Mathematician’s Apology by GH Hardy. In it, Hardy argues that “It is not possible to justify the life of any genuine professional mathematician on the ground of the utility of his work.” On the contrary, “Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”

Marcus talks about his life as a mathematician and the parallels between his work and that of an artist, musician or writer. Just like a novelist, he wants to tell a good story when he’s formulating a mathematical proof. He wants to entertain his audience with suspense, surprise and intrigue.

Produced by Isabel Sutton
Broadcast: February 2016