Ian Stewart (mathematician)

Ian Nicholas Stewart FRS CMath FIMA (born 24 September 1945) is a British mathematician and a popular-science and science-fiction writer.[3] He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, England.

Ian Stewart

Ian Nicholas Stewart

(1945-09-24) 24 September 1945[1]
Alma mater
Known for
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Warwick
ThesisSubideals of Lie algebras (1969)
Doctoral advisorBrian Hartley[2]

Education and early life

Stewart was born in 1945 in England. While in the sixth form at Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone he came to the attention of the mathematics teacher. The teacher had Stewart sit mock A-level examinations without any preparation along with the upper-sixth students; Stewart was placed first in the examination. He was awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate student of Churchill College, Cambridge, where he studied the Mathematical Tripos and obtained a first-class Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics in 1966. Stewart then went to the University of Warwick where his PhD on Lie algebras was supervised by Brian Hartley and completed in 1969.[4]

Career and research

After his PhD, Stewart was offered an academic position at Warwick. He is well known for his popular expositions of mathematics and his contributions to catastrophe theory.[5]

While at Warwick, Stewart edited the mathematical magazine Manifold.[6] He also wrote a column called "Mathematical Recreations" for Scientific American magazine from 1991 to 2001. This followed the work of past columnists like Martin Gardner, Douglas Hofstadter, and A.K. Dewdney. Altogether, he wrote 96 columns for Scientific American, which were later reprinted in the books "Math Hysteria", "How to Cut a Cake: And Other Mathematical Conundrums" and "Cows in the Maze".

Stewart has held visiting academic positions in Germany (1974), New Zealand (1976), and the US (University of Connecticut 1977–78, University of Houston 1983–84).

Stewart has published more than 140 scientific papers, including a series of influential papers co-authored with Jim Collins on coupled oscillators and the symmetry of animal gaits.[3][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Stewart has collaborated with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett on four popular science books based on Pratchett's Discworld. In 1999 Terry Pratchett made both Jack Cohen and Professor Ian Stewart "Honorary Wizards of the Unseen University" at the same ceremony at which the University of Warwick gave Terry Pratchett an honorary degree.

In March 2014 Ian Stewart's iPad app, Incredible Numbers by Professor Ian Stewart, launched in the App Store. The app was produced in partnership with Profile Books and Touch Press.[13]

  • Manifold, mathematical magazine published at the University of Warwick (1960s)
  • Nut-crackers: Puzzles and Games to Boggle the Mind (Piccolo Books) with John Jaworski, 1971. ISBN 978-0-330-02795-3
  • Concepts of Modern Mathematics (1975)
  • Oh! Catastrophe (1982, in French)
  • Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos (1989)[14]
  • Game, Set and Math (1991)
  • Fearful Symmetry (1992)
  • Another Fine Math You've Got Me Into (1992)
  • The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World, with Jack Cohen (1995)
  • Nature's Numbers: Unreal Reality of Mathematics (1995)
  • What is Mathematics? – originally by Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins, second edition revised by Ian Stewart (1996)
  • From Here to Infinity (1996), originally published as The Problems of Mathematics (1987)
  • Figments of Reality, with Jack Cohen (1997)
  • The Magical Maze: Seeing the World Through Mathematical Eyes (1998) ISBN 0-471-35065-6
  • Life's Other Secret (1998)
  • What Shape is a Snowflake? (2001)
  • Flatterland (2001) ISBN 0-7382-0442-0 (See Flatland)
  • The Annotated Flatland (2002)
  • Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life, with Jack Cohen (2002). Second edition published as What Does a Martian Look Like? The Science of Extraterrestrial Life.
  • Math Hysteria (2004) ISBN 0-19-861336-9
  • The Mayor of Uglyville's Dilemma (2005)
  • Letters to a Young Mathematician (2006) ISBN 0-465-08231-9
  • How to Cut a Cake: And Other Mathematical Conundrums (2006) ISBN 978-0-19-920590-5
  • Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry (2007) ISBN 0-465-08236-X
  • Taming the infinite: The story of Mathematics from the first numbers to chaos theory (2008) ISBN 978-1847241818
  • Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities (2008) ISBN 1-84668-064-6
  • Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures: Another Drawer from the Cabinet of Curiosities (2009) ISBN 978-1-84668-292-6
  • Cows in the Maze: And Other Mathematical Explorations (2010) ISBN 978-0-19-956207-7
  • The Mathematics of Life (2011) ISBN 978-0-465-02238-0
  • In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World (2012) ISBN 978-1-84668-531-6
  • Symmetry: A Very Short Introduction (2013) ISBN 978-0-19965-198-6
  • Visions of Infinity: The Great Mathematical Problems (2013) ISBN 978-0-46502-240-3
  • Professor Stewart's Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries (2014) ISBN 978-1846683480
  • Incredible Numbers by Professor Ian Stewart (iPad app) (2014)
  • Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe (2016) ISBN 978-1781257180
  • Significant Figures: The Lives and Work of Great Mathematicians (2017) ISBN 978-0465096121

Science of Discworld series


  • Catastrophe Theory and its Applications, with Tim Poston, Pitman, 1978. ISBN 0-273-01029-8.
  • Complex Analysis: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Plane, I. Stewart, D Tall. 1983 ISBN 0-521-24513-3
  • Algebraic number theory and Fermat's last theorem, 3rd Edition, I. Stewart, D Tall. A. K. Peters (2002) ISBN 1-56881-119-5
  • Galois Theory, 3rd Edition, Chapman and Hall (2000) ISBN 1-58488-393-6 Galois Theory Errata
  • The Foundations of Mathematics, 2nd Edition, I. Stewart, D Tall. (2015) ISBN 978-019870-643-4

Science fiction

Science and mathematics

Awards and honours

In 1995 Stewart received the Michael Faraday Medal and in 1997 he gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Magical Maze. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001.[1] Stewart was the first recipient in 2008 of the Christopher Zeeman Medal, awarded jointly by the London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) for his work on promoting mathematics.[15]

Personal life

Stewart married his wife, Avril, in 1970.[1] They met at a party at a house that Avril was renting while she was trained as a nurse. They have two sons.[1] He lists his recreations as science fiction, painting, guitar, keeping fish, geology, Egyptology and snorkelling.[1]


  1. Anon (2014). "STEWART, Prof. Ian Nicholas". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.36256. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. Ian Stewart at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. Ian Stewart publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  4. Stewart, Ian Nicholas (1969). Subideals of Lie algebras. wrap.warwick.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of Warwick. OCLC 921056078. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.594893.
  5. Bellos, Alex (16 April 2011). "Mathematics of Life by Ian Stewart – review". The Guardian.
  6. "In conversation with Professor Ian Stewart – interview". Chalkdust. 14 March 2016.
  7. Ashwin, P.; Buescu, J.; Stewart, I. (1994). "Bubbling of attractors and synchronisation of chaotic oscillators". Physics Letters A. 193 (2): 126. Bibcode:1994PhLA..193..126A. doi:10.1016/0375-9601(94)90947-4.
  8. Strogatz, Steve H.; Stewart, Ian (1993). "Coupled oscillators and biological synchronization" (PDF). Scientific American. 269 (6): 102–9. Bibcode:1993SciAm.269f.102S. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1293-102. PMID 8266056.
  9. Ashwin, P.; Buescu, J.; Stewart, I. (1996). "From attractor to chaotic saddle: A tale of transverse instability". Nonlinearity. 9 (3): 703. Bibcode:1996Nonli...9..703A. doi:10.1088/0951-7715/9/3/006.
  10. Collins, J. J.; Stewart, I. N. (1993). "Coupled nonlinear oscillators and the symmetries of animal gaits". Journal of Nonlinear Science. 3 (1): 349–392. Bibcode:1993JNS.....3..349C. doi:10.1007/BF02429870.
  11. Golubitsky, Marty; Stewart, Ian; Buono, Pietro-Luciano; Collins, James J. (1999). "Symmetry in locomotor central pattern generators and animal gaits". Nature. 401 (6754): 693–5. Bibcode:1999Natur.401..693G. doi:10.1038/44416. PMID 10537106.
  12. Stewart, I. (2000). "Mathematics. The Lorenz attractor exists". Nature. 406 (6799): 948–9. doi:10.1038/35023206. PMID 10984036.
  13. "Incredible Numbers by Professor Ian Stewart".
  14. Holmes, Philip. "Does God Play Dice: The New Mathematics of Chaos and What Shape Is a Snowflake? Magical Numbers in Nature" (PDF). Notices of the AMS. 49: 1392–1396.
  15. Shepherd, Jessica (8 June 2009), "The magic numbers: Professor Ian Stewart persuades Jessica Shepherd that maths can be fun – with a bit of help from Terry Pratchett", The Guardian
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