The Adams Prize is one of the University's oldest and most prestigious prizes. The Prize is named after the mathematician John Couch Adams and was endowed by members of St John's College. It commemorates Adams's role in the discovery of the planet Neptune, through calculation of the discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus. Previous prizewinners include James Clerk Maxwell, Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking.
The 2020 Prize
The Adams Prize 201920 has been awarded jointly to Professor Konstantin Ardakov (Oxford) and Professor Michael Wemyss (Glasgow). More information is available at https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/adamsprize/adamsprizewinners201920announced
The 2021 Prize
The details of the 202021 prize will be announced in the coming weeks.
Previous Prizes
Year  Prizewinner  Subject 
2020  Professor Konstantin Ardakov (Oxford) Dr Michael Wemyss (Glasgow) 
Algebra 
2019  Dr Heather Harrington (Oxford) Dr Luitgard Veraart (London School of Economics and Political Science) 
The Mathematics of Networks 
2018  Dr Claudia de Rham (Imperial College London) "The gravitational rainbow beyond Einstein gravity" Dr Gustav Holzegel (Imperial College London) 
The Mathematics of Astronomy and Cosmology 
2017  Professor Graham Cormode (Warwick) Professor Richard Samworth (Cambridge) "Recent progress in logconcave density estimation" 
Statistical Analysis of Big Data 
2016  Professor Clement Mouhot (Cambridge)  Applied Analysis 
2015  Dr Arend Bayer (Edinburgh) "WallCrossing implies BrillNoether. Applications of stability conditions on surfaces" Dr Tom Coates (Imperial College London) 
Algebraic Geometry 
2014  Not awarded  Pattern Formation in Physics and Biology 
2013  Professor Ivan Smith (Cambridge) "A Symplectic Prolegomenon" 
Topology 
2012  Dr Sheehan Olver (Oxford) Dr Françoise Tisseur (Manchester) 
Computational Mathematics 
2011  Dr Harald Helfgott (Bristol) "Growth in groups: ideas and perspectives" Dr Tom Sanders (Cambridge) "The Structure Theory of Set Addition Revisited" 
Discrete Mathematics or Number Theory 
2010  Professor Jacques Vanneste (Edinburgh) "Balance and Spontaneous Wave Generation in Geophysical Flows" 
Fluid Mechanics 
2009  Professor Raphaël Rouquier (Oxford) "Quiver Hecke Algebras and 2Lie Algebras" 
Representation Theory 
2008  Professor Tom Bridgeland (Sheffield) "Spaces of stability conditions" Dr David Tong (Cambridge) "Quantum Vortex Strings: a review" 
Quantum Fields and Strings 
2007  Dr Paul Fearnhead (Lancaster) "Computational Methods for Complex Stochastic Systems: a review of some alternative to MCMC" 
Statistics 
2006  Professor Jonathan Sherratt (HeriotWatt) "Periodic Travelling Waves in Cyclic Populations: Field Studies and ReactionDiffusion Models" 
Mathematical Biology 
2005  Dr Mihalis Dafermos (Cambridge) Dr David Stuart (Cambridge) "Analysis of the adiabatic limit for solitons in classical field theory" 
Differential Equations 
2004  Professor Dominic Joyce (Oxford) "A new construction of compact 8manifolds with holonomy Spin(7)" 
Differential Geometry 
2003  Dr David Hobson (Bath) "A survey of mathematical finance" 
Financial Mathematics 
2002  Dr Susan Howson (Nottingham)  Number Theory 
2001  Dr Sandu Popescu (Bristol)  Quantum Information 
2000  Not awarded  
Prior to 2000, candidates were required to have a close connection to the University of Cambridge, and were also required to write a specially composed essay for the prize. This was widened to allow a candidate to be judged on their achievements in research.  
1998  Not awarded  Pattern Formation 
1996  No candidates  Number Theory and Arithmetical Algebraic Geometry 
1994  No candidates  Fluid Dynamics 
1992  Paul Glendinning (Gonville and Caius) "Chaos and Routes to Chaos in Lorenz Maps" 
Dynamical Systems 
1990  Not awarded  Differential Geometry 
1988  Not awarded  Elementary Particle Physics 
1986  Brian Ripley (Churchill) "Statistical Inference for Spatial Processes" 
Spatial and Geometrical Aspects of Probability and Statistics 
1984  Bernard John Carr (Trinity)  Cosmology 
1982  Stephen Donkin (King's) "Tensor Products and Filtrations for Rational Representations of Algebraic Groups" Gordon James (Sidney Sussex) "Representations of General Linear Groups" Aidan Schofield (Trinity) "Simple Artinian Rings" Dan Segal (Peterhouse) "Polycyclic Groups" Martin Taylor (Trinity) "Classgroups of Group Rings" 
Algebra 
1980  Brian Kennett (Emmanuel) "Seismic Wave Propagation in Stratified Media" Michael McIntyre (Trinity) "Waves and Mean Flows" 
Theories of Wave Generation Propagation, Interaction and Stability 
1978  Alastair Mees (King's) "Ordinary Feedback Systems" 
Differential Equations 
1976  Dr Tim Pedley (Gonville and Caius) "The Fluid Mechanics of Large Blood Vessels and of Bronchial Airways" 
Applications of Mathematics in Biology 
1974  Dr David Barton (St John's) John Fitch (St John's) "Applications of algebraic manipulation programs in physics" 
Computer Science excluding Hardware 
1972  Dr Alan Baker (Trinity) "Transcendental Number Theory" Additional prizes awarded to: Professor Christopher Hooley (Corpus Christi) "Applications of Sieve Methods in the Theory of Primes" Professor Hugh Lowell Montgomery (Trinity) "Advances in Multiplicative Number Theory" 
The Theory of Numbers 
1970  Robert Burridge (King's) "The theory of earthquake mechanics" Leslie John Walpole (Emmanuel) "Theoretical elasticity of composite continua" John Raymond Willis (Fitzwilliam) "The solution of asymmetric problems of elasticity by Fourier transforms" 
Continuum Mechanics of some class of solid materials, in regard to the theoretical basis and/or applications 
1968  No candidates  Differential Topology, including topological aspects of Differential Equations, Calculus of Variations and Nonlinear Analysis 
1966  Dr Roger Penrose (St John's) "An analysis of the structure of spacetime" Additional prizes awarded to: Dr Stephen Hawking (Gonville and Caius) "Singularities and the geometry of spacetime" Dr Jayant Narlikar (King's) "Gravitation, Mach's principle, and cosmology" 
Geometrical Problems of Relativity, with special references to the foundations of General Relativity and Cosmology 
1964  Dr James Gardner Oldroyd (Trinity) "An approach to nonNewtonian fluid mechanics" Dr Owen Martin Phillips (Trinity) "The dynamics of the upper ocean" 
Fluid Mechanics 
1962  John Robert Ringrose (St John's) "Spectral Analysis: diagonal and superdiagonal forms for linear operators" 

1960  Vasant Shankar Huzurbazar (Fitzwilliam) "Invariance Theory of Prior Probabilities" Walter Laws Smith (Pembroke) "Contributions to Renewal Theory" 
Probability Theory 
1958  Paul Taunton Matthews (Clare) Professor Abdus Salam (St John's) "Invariance Properties in Elementary Particle Physics" John Gerald Taylor (Christ's) "The Dispersion Relations in Quantum Field Theory" 
Quantum Field Theory 
1956  Harold Gordon Eggleston (Trinity) "Convexity in Euclidean Space" Of great merit: Peter John Hilton (Pembroke) "Homotopy theory of modules" Ioan Mackenzie James (Gonville and Caius) "On the homotopy groups of spheres" 
Topology 
1954  No candidates  Cosmical Magnetism 
1952  Bernhard Hermann Neumann (Fitzwilliam) "An essay on free products of groups with amalgamations" Of nearly equal merit: William Leonard Edge (Trinity) "Unitary Matrices in Galois Fields" 
A contribution to the theory of groups (by algebraic, analytical, topological or other methods, and including applications in which the use of group theory plays the major part) 
1950  George Keith Batchelor (Trinity) "The theory of homogeneous turbulence" William Reginald Dean (Trinity) "Problems in the motion of an imcompressible viscous fluid" Leslie Howarth (St John's) "Some aspects of boundary layer theory" Essays of great merit: Rodney Hill (Pembroke) Gilford Norman Ward (Queens') 
Problems in the mechanics of solids and fluids (including elasticity, plasticity and hydrodynamics) 
1948  John Charles Burkill (Peterhouse) "Integrals and trigonometric series" Subrahmanyan Chandresekhar (Trinity) "On a class of nonlinear integral equations" Walter Kurt Hayman (St John's) "Maximum modulus and valency of functions meromorphic in the unit circle" John MacNaughton Whittaker (Trinity) "Series of polynomials" 
An essay on some subject in mathematical analysis 
1943  Suspended  
1942  Hormasji Jehangir Bhabha (Gonville and Caius)  The theory of the elementary particles and their interactions 
1940  Harold Davenport (Trinity) "On the geometry of numbers" 
The Theory of Numbers 
1938  Not awarded  The distributional properties of functions of statistical variables 
1936  William Vallance Douglas Hodge (Pembroke) "Harmonic integrals" Essays of great distinction: Thomas Gerald Room (St John's) John Arthur Todd (Trinity) Patrick Du Val (Trinity) 
(i) The theory of algebraic systems of curves on an algebraic surface (ii) The application of topological methods to the theory of algebraic loci (iii) The general reduction of an algebraic surface to one without multiplicities (iv) The geometrical representation of the physical universe 
1934  Sydney Goldstein (St John's) Highly commended: Louis Rosenhead (St John's) 
The mathematical representation of unsteady flow in fluids 
1932  Alan Herries Wilson (Emmanuel)  The QuantumMechanical theory of aperiodic phenomena 
1930  Abram Samoilovitch Besicovitch (Trinity) "Almost periodic functions" 
The theory of almost periodic functions 
1928  Sydney Chapman (Trinity) "Solar and Lunar diurnal variations of terrestrial magnetism" 
The variations in the Earth's magnetic field in relation to electric phenomena in the upper atmosphere and on the Earth 
1926  Sir Harold Jeffreys (St John's)  The constitution of the interior of the Earth and the missing words 
1924  Sir Ralph Fowler (Trinity)  The physical state of matter at high temperatures 
1922  Joseph Proudman (Trinity) Highly commended: H. Jeffreys (St John's) 
The Theory of the Tides 
1920  William Hicks (St John's) Highly commended: John William Nicholson (Trinity) 
The nature and analysis of optical spectra 
1918  John William Nicholson (Trinity)  The Diffraction of Sound Waves 
1916  James Hopwood Jeans (Trinity)  The course of evolution of the configurations possible for a rotating and gravitating fluid mass, including the discussion of the stabilities of the various forms 
1914  Geoffrey Ingram Taylor (Trinity) "Turbulent Motions in Fluids" 
The phenomena of the disturbed motion of fluids, including the resistances encountered by bodies moving through them 
1912  Samuel Bruce McClaren (Trinity) John William Nicholson (Trinity) 
The Theory of Radiation 
1911  Augustus Edward Hough Love (Trinity) "Some Problems of Geodynamics" 
Some Investigation connected with the physical constitution or motion of the earth 
1909  George Adolphus Schott (Trinity) "Electromagnetic radiation" 
The radiation from electric systems or ions in accelerated motion and the mechanical reactions on their motion which arise from it 
1907  Ernest William Brown (Christ's)  The inequalities in the Moon's motion due to the direct action of the planets 
1905  Not awarded  Wave motion of finite amplitude and unchanging type, in deep water 
1903  Not awarded  The bearing on mathematical physics of recent progress in the theory of the representation of discontinuous quantity by series, with special consideration of the logical limitations of the processes involved 
1901  Hector Munro MacDonald (Clare)  Electric Waves 
1899  Joseph Larmor (St John's) Gilbert Thomas Walker (Trinity) 
The Theory of the Aberration of Light 
1897  Not awarded  The solution of the differential equation y'' + (1/x)y'+ [1+(n^{2}/x^{2})]y = 0 may be written in the form y = AJ_{n }(ix) + BK_{n }(ix), where A and B are arbitrary constants, i=√1, J_{n }(x) denotes Bessel's function of the n^{th} order, and K_{n }(ix) is a function of x which vanishes when x is infinite. The subject selected for the Adams Prize Essay in 1897 is a discussion of the roots of the equation K_{n }(ix) = 0. 
1895  No candidates  Discontinuous fluid motion in three dimensions 
1893  John Henry Poynting (Trinity)  The methods of determining the absolute and relative value of gravitation and the mean density of the earth 
1891  No candidates  The Motion of a Satellite about a Spheroidal Planet, and the Reaction on the Planet 
1889  Not awarded  On the Criterion of the Stability and Instability of the Motion of a Viscous Fluid 
1887  No candidates  Ellipsoidal and Spheroidal Harmonic Analysis 
1885  Not awarded  Investigate the laws governing the interaction of cyclones and anticyclones on the Earth's surface 
1883  Joseph John Thomson (Trinity)  A general investigation of the action upon each other of two closed vortices in a perfectly incompressible fluid 
1879  Not awarded  The mutual disturbances of two planets when their mean motions are either exactly or very nearly commensurable 
1877  Edward John Routh (Peterhouse)  The Criterion of Dynamical Stability 
1875  Not awarded  A Theory of the Reflection and Refraction of Light 
1873  Not awarded  A dissertation on the effect of the tides in altering the length of the day 
1871  Isaac Todhunter (St John's)  A determination of the circumstances under which discontinuity of any kind presents itself in the solution of a problem of maximum or minimum in the calculus of variations, and applications of particular instances 
1869  Not awarded  On the determination of the orbit of a planet or comet from three observations 
1867  Not awarded  A new or improved method of finding by approximation the imaginary roots of a numerical equation of any degree 
1865  Edward Walker (Trinity)  A systematic account of the phenomena and laws of terrestrial and cosmical magnetism so far as they have been hitherto ascertained by experiment 
1863  Not awarded  A dissertation on the phenomena of dark and bright lines in spectra 
1861  Not awarded  The Theory of the Physical Phenomena of the Great Comet of 1858 
1859  Not awarded  The theory of the mutual perturbations of two planets when their mean motions are accurately commensurate; especially in the case where the mean motions are in the ratio of 2 to 1. 
1857  James Clerk Maxwell (Trinity)  The motion of Saturn's rings 
1855  No candidates  The theory of Biela's Double Comet 
1853  Not awarded  An investigation of the perturbations of the Moon in latitude produced by the actions of Venus, and particularly of the secular movement, and the inequalities of long period in the movement of the moon and node 
1850  Robert Peirson (St John's)  The theory of the long inequality of Uranus and Neptune, depending on the near commensurability of their mean motions 