Credo: Marcus du Sautoy

Mathematician and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, 43

I believe...

My role [as the Simonyi Professor] is as an ambassador for science. It's a challenge because it requires me to broaden my scientific horizons and engage in debates outside my specialist field. But I'm only one person and I can't do everything.

Creationism is a concern, but I'm trying not to get sucked into the same level of debate on the subject as [previous Simonyi Professor] Richard Dawkins. There are so many other battles to fight.

Maths is a fundamental language of our society. Just like being unable to spell or understand grammar, you'll find it hard to make your way through life without it.

The way we're teaching maths is too monochromatic. A good mathematician is not necessarily someone who is fast at their multiplication tables; the emphasis on arithmetic is mistaken. If you want to inspire kids, you have to help them explore maths' creative side.

There's some truth in the stereotype that mathematicians lack social skills. Sometimes you have to be very blinkered to get to your goal, and that can result in excluding the people around you from your world.

Governments are very oriented towards short-term goals, giving grants to research that has an immediate application. That's dangerous. Time and again, mathematical breakthroughs are made which look to be abstract and useless at the time, but turn out to be exactly what's needed.

There's a real public appetite for science, fed by swathes of popular science books and television. I often appear on Radio 5 Live, and we recently did a whole session on maths trivia. The amount of things people sent in amazed me.

If I wasn't a mathematician, I'd have joined the theatre. Even though I didn't, I've found a way of performing that I'm passionate about. There's wonderful drama in the stories of science, and every time I do a talk or TV show, I try to bring that out.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why