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Martin Wolf

The Shifts and the Shocks

Hay Festival 2015, 

The chief economics commentator of the Financial Times explains that further shocks could be ahead for the economy because governments have failed to deal with fundamental problems in the world’s financial systems. Wolf traces the causes of the great recession to the complex interaction between globalisation, destabilising global imbalances and fragile financial systems. He argues that management of the Eurozone in particular guarantees a future political crisis and he offers far more ambitious and comprehensive plans for reform than are presently being considered. Chaired by Susie Symes.

Martin Wolf

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Simon Singh

The John Maddox Lecture: Fermat’s Last Theorem

Hay Festival 2015, 

‘I have discovered a truly marvellous proof, which this margin is too narrow to contain…’ Twenty years after a mild-mannered Englishman solved Pierre de Fermat’s 350-year-old theorem, Singh tells the true story of how mathematics’ most challenging problem was made to yield its secrets in a thrilling tale of endurance, ingenuity and inspiration.

Simon Singh

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Cedric Villani

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure

Hay Festival 2015, 

The rock-star mathematician takes us on a mesmerising journey as he wrestles with a new theorem that will win him the most coveted prize in mathematics. Along the way he encounters obstacles and setbacks, losses of faith and even brushes with madness. His story is one of courage and partnership, doubt and anxiety, elation and despair. Blending science with history, biography with myth, he conjures up an inimitable cast of characters including the omnipresent Einstein, mad genius Kurt Gödel, and Villani’s personal hero, John Nash. Chaired by Marcus du Sautoy.

Cedric Villani

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Ben Okri, Marcus du Sautoy and Elleke Boehmer

Narrative and Proof

Hay Festival 2015, 

How does narrative shape the sciences and the arts? Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road, Astonishing the Gods and The Age of Magic, is joined by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, in conversation with novelist and academic Elleke Boehmer.

Ben Okri, Marcus du Sautoy and Elleke Boehmer

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Ursula Martin

The Scientific Life of Ada Lovelace, a Victorian Computing Visionary

Hay Festival 2016, 

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) is famous as  “The first programmer” for her prescient writings about Charles Babbage’s unbuilt mechanical computer, the Analytical Engine. Biographers have focused on her tragically short life and her supposed poetic approach – in this talk we unpick the myths and look at her scientific education, what she really did, and why it is important, placing her in the rich context of nineteenth century science, and the contemporary misremembering of  female scientists.

Ursula Martin CBE is a Professor in Mathematics and Computer Science in the University of Oxford, and leads Oxford’s project to digitize Lovelace’s mathematics.

Ursula Martin

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Fumiya Iida

Cambridge Series 7: Robot Intelligence Versus Human Intelligence

Hay Festival 2016, 

How intelligent (or otherwise) are robots? Is it a good thing that they can steal our jobs? And will robots ever take over the world? Dr Iida is a Lecturer in Mechatronics at Cambridge.

Fumiya Iida

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Leslie Ann Goldberg

Algorithms and their Limitations

Hay Festival 2016, 

Many of our everyday activities, such as looking up information on the internet and journey planning, are supported by sophisticated algorithms. Some of our online activities are supported by the fact that we don’t have good algorithms for some problems: the encryption scheme that supports the privacy of credit cards in online transactions is believed to be secure precisely because there is no known fast algorithm for factoring large numbers. The Oxford Computer Science Professor explains a little of what we know about the limitations of algorithms, and also the famous P vs NP problem. This is the most important open problem in computer science and is one of the seven Millennium Problems of the Clay Mathematics Institute, which has offered a million-dollar prize for its solution.

Leslie Ann Goldberg

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David Spiegelhalter

Cambridge Series 18: Sex by Numbers

Hay Festival 2016, 

How often, with whom, and doing what? The statistics of sexual behaviour are riveting, but can we believe them? A Cambridge professor of statistics investigates. Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk.

David Spiegelhalter

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