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Faculty of Mathematics


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 prize-winners include James Clerk Maxwell, Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking.


The 2019 Prize

The Prize this year will be awarded for achievements in the field of The Mathematics of Networks.

The Prize is open to any person who, on 31st October 2018, will hold an appointment in the UK, either in a university or in some other institution; and who is under 40 (in exceptional circumstances the Adjudicators may relax this age limit). The value of the Prize is expected to be approximately £15,000, of which one third is awarded to the prize-winner on announcement of the prize, one third is provided to the prize-winner's institution (for research expenses of the prize-winner) and one third is awarded to the prize-winner on acceptance for publication in an internationally recognised journal of a substantial (normally at least 25 printed pages) original article, of which the prize-winner is an author, surveying a significant part of the winner's field.

Applications, comprising a CV, a list of publications, the body of work (published or unpublished) to be considered, and a brief non-technical summary of the most significant new results of this work (designed for mathematicians not working in the subject area) should be sent to the Secretary of the Adams Prize Adjudicators via email to

The deadline for receipt of applications is 31st October 2018.

Poster for display (PDF)

Previous Prizes

Year Prize-winner Subject
2018 Dr Claudia de Rham (Imperial College London)
Dr Gustav Holzegel (Imperial College London)
The Mathematics of Astronomy and Cosmology
2017 Professor Graham Cormode (Warwick)
Professor Richard Samworth (Cambridge)
Statistical Analysis of Big Data 
2016 Professor Clement Mouhot (Cambridge) Applied Analysis
2015 Dr Arend Bayer (Edinburgh)
"Wall-Crossing implies Brill-Noether. 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"
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 2-Lie 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"
2006 Professor Jonathan Sherratt (Heriot-Watt)
"Periodic Travelling Waves in Cyclic Populations: Field Studies and Reaction-Diffusion 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 8-manifolds 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"
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 space-time"
Additional prizes awarded to:
Dr Stephen Hawking (Gonville and Caius)
"Singularities and the geometry of space-time"
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 non-Newtonian 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 super-diagonal 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"
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 non-linear 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 Quantum-Mechanical 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+(n2/x2)]y = 0 may be written in the form y = AJ(ix) + BK(ix), where A and B are arbitrary constants, i=√-1, J(x) denotes Bessel's function of the nth order, and K(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(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