I love talking about maths. Please get in touch (r [dot] elwes [at] gmail [dot] com) if you would like me to come and speak to your school or club. The sessions I currently offer include:

  • Knot Theory interactive masterclass – I have versions of this suitable for beginners and for more advanced (e.g. A-level) students.
  • Nim and Nimbers – an interactive masterclass on game theory and mathematical strategy, suitable for audiences of all ages.
  • Unpicking Pick’s Theorem – an interactive masterclass (ideally requiring computer access for all students, working in pairs) about Pick’s theorem.
  • The Maths that Makes the Modern World – a talk, suitable for A-level students, about some of the mathematics behind industry and the internet.
  • Infinity and the Limits of Maths – a talk, suitable for A-level students, about some of the mathematics behind industry and the internet.
  • The Science of Geometry and the Art of Optimisation – a talk, suitable for GCSE students, about the mathematics of optimisation.
  • I have various talks suitable for mixed mathematical audiences (e.g. undergraduate maths societies).



Selected Public Appearances

For more technical presentations, see below.

• Public Lecture on The unreasonable effectiveness of logic on 18th September 2018 at the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Edinburgh as part of the conference From permutation groups to model theory: a workshop inspired by the interests of Dugald Macpherson, on the occasion of his 60th birthday

• Talk at ESOF (European Science Open Forum, 26th July 2016) on Exploring the Turing Myth, jointly with mathematician Roberto Natalini, playwright & director Maria Elisabetta Marelli, science writer Francesca Riccioni, and cartoonist Tuono Pettinato.

• Three talks at the Training Partnership at the UCL institute of Education, on 25th November 2015, 15th December 2015, and 3rd March 2016.

• Royal Institution Scottish Mathematics Masterclass Day at Edinburgh University (June 2015), on Nim and Nimbers

Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Seminar (December 2013) at University of Central Lancashire.

• Interview with Neil Denny on Little Atoms on Resonance FM (December 2010). MP3 here.

Other General Talks

• 2011-2018, workshops on Knot Maths to school-students aged 13-14 as part of the Royal Institution Mathematics Masterclasses in Leeds. Handout here [pdf].

• 2009-2018, Knot Theory masterclass to A-level students at Leeds Festival of Science and/or Leeds University’s Reach For Excellence Summer-schools.

• I regularly give talks and masterclasses on various aspects of mathematics (including prime numbers, tessellations, infinity, knot theory, waves) at schools around Yorkshire.

Mathematical Exploration into Logical Algebra, University of Leeds, 29th November 2018.

• Talk for the Yorkshire Branch of the Mathematics Association on The Platonic Solids Lesser Known Cousins, 20th October 2018

• Café Scientifique talk (May 2015) in Headingley (Leeds), on The Science of Geometry and the Art of Optimisation

• University of York Mathematics Society talk (April 2014) on Gödel, Incompleteness, and Unprovable Theorems (Video)

• A 2 hour workshop on Pick’s Theorem for sixth-formers, jointly with Matt Daws, at Leeds Festival of Science (March 2013).

• WP Milne lecture at Leeds Festival of Science (March 2013) on The Maths that Makes the Modern World.

• Maths Excursion talk at Leeds University on the topic of Pick’s Theorem and Ehrhart Polynomials (February 2012). Slides here [pdf].

• Maths Special edition of The Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast, along with Ian Stewart and Brian Cox, and hosted by Alok Jha (March 2011). MP3 here.

• Interview with Dan Damon on World Update on the BBC World Service, about unprovability and set theory (November 2010). MP3 here.

• Talk at the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society, about Infinity and Hugh Woodin’s Ultimate L (November 2011).

• Talk at PhilSoc in Manchester, to an audience of students from three Manchester schools (September 2011), about Infinity and the Limits of Mathematics.

• Webinar on “Some families of polyhedra” at Mathfuture, hosted by Maria Droujkova (May 2011). If you don’t know your tetrahemihexahedron from your tridiminished rhombicosidodecahedronfrom, watch it online here.

• October 2007, talk about e and transcendental numbers at Café Scientifique in Chapel Allerton, Leeds.

• In February 2007, interviewed on Channel 4’s radio show The Tube, discussing Goldbach’s Conjecture with Alex James (of Blur fame) in front of an audience of screaming teenage rock fans. (Write-up here.)


Research Presentations

• Landscape Colloquium on Concrete Incompleteness, University of Bath, 23rd November 2018

• Workshop on the Model Theory of Finite & Pseudofinite Structures, University of Leeds, 29th July 2016

• Model Theory Seminar, University of Leeds, 5th July 2016

• Model Theory Seminar, University of Leeds, 16th June 2015

• Model Theory Seminar, University of Leeds, 2nd December 2014

• Mathematics Seminar, University of Essex, 24th April 2014

• Interdisciplinary Seminar, University of Essex, 24th April 2014

• LAND (Leeds Applied Non-linear Dynamics) Seminar, University of Leeds, 22nd October 2013

• Logic Seminar, University of Leeds, 20th October 2010, on Concrete Incompleteness. Slides and blogpost here.

• Mathematical Logic Seminar, Université de Lyon, 18th May 2006

• Graduiertenkolleg Mathematische Logik und Anwendungen, Albert-Ludwigs Universität, Freiburg, 8th May 2006

• Workshop On Finite Models, Université de Paris VII, 27th March 2006

• Workshop On Finite And Algorithmic Model Theory, University of Durham, 9-13th January 2006

• Mathematical Logic Seminar, University of Oxford, 18th November 2005

• Mathematical Logic Seminar, University of Leeds, 26th January 2005

• British Mathematical Colloquium, Queen’s University Belfast, 5-8th April, 2004


Talking Maths on The Tube

“Dr Elwes was a total dude. He looked like he could have been in one of the bands we had on.” – Alex James, in The Independent


Little Atoms

“great… really engaging look at the fundamentals of maths for a relatively lay listener.” – Michael Marshall, presenter of Strange Quarks and Skeptics with a K