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The unity of mathematics: A conference in honour of Sir Michael Atiyah


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22nd September 2020 to 24th September 2020


Sir Michael Atiyah (1929-2019) was the dominant figure in UK mathematics for many decades.  Amongst his many distinguished positions, he was the founding Director of the Isaac Newton Institute (1990-96). He was also President of the London Mathematical Society (1974 -76). In his Presidential Address “The Unity of Mathematics”,  delivered on November 19th, 1976,  he remarked:   “The aspect of mathematics which fascinates me most is the rich interaction between its different branches, the unexpected links, the surprises…”. Those who knew him will know that this fascination was an ongoing theme throughout his life.

The London Mathematical Society spearheaded the idea of a meeting of the same title to celebrate Sir Michael’s immense contributions to mathematics and the mathematical life of this country.  It is being organised jointly with the Isaac Newton Institute and has been made possible owing to the generosity of the LMS and the INI, in partnership with the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, the Clay Mathematical Institute and the Mathematical Institute, Oxford.

The conference will consist of a selection of talks which we trust Sir Michael would have found interesting and which reflect the interactions which he so much appreciated.  The speakers cover a broad range of mathematical generations and topics, ranging from number theory to theoretical physics, and include representatives from Oxford, Cambridge, Bonn, Princeton and Edinburgh – places which played a fundamental role at various stages of Sir Michael’s long mathematical life. The presentations should be accessible to a broad audience.

There will be a conference dinner at Trinity College, Cambridge on the evening of the 23rd September. Limited support for accommodation and travel will be available. Registration will open shortly and early registration is recommended.  


The event will start with registration and lunch at 12:00 on Tuesday 22 September and end at 16:30 on Thursday 24 September. There will be an optional tour of the Wren Library from 10am on Tuesday morning. Click on the button below to view the full timetable

View timetable


  • Robbert Dijkgraaf (IAS)
  • Nigel Higson (Penn State)
  • Vaughan Jones (Vanderbilt)
  • Minhyong Kim (Oxford)
  • Holly Krieger (Cambridge)
  • Rahul Pandharipande (ETH)
  • Oscar Randal-Williams (Cambridge)
  • Peter Sarnak (Princeton)
  • Nick Sheridan (Edinburgh)
  • Catharina Stroppel (Bonn)
  • Maryna Viazovska (EPFL)
  • Edward Witten (IAS)

Scientific Committee

  • Nigel Hitchin (Oxford, Chair) 
  • Simon Donaldson (Stony Brook)
  • Dai Evans (Cardiff and LMS Council)
  • Lisa Jeffreys (Toronto)
  • Jon Keating (Oxford and LMS President)
  • Ivan Smith (Cambridge)
  • Richard Thomas (Imperial)


  • José Figueroa-O’Farrill (Edinburgh, Lead)
  • Laura Schaposnik (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Caroline Series (Warwick and LMS President 2017-19)
  • Ivan Smith (Cambridge)
  • Paul Sutcliffe (Durham)
  • Henry Wilton (Cambridge)   


The Organisers would like to thank the below bodies for their generous support of the conference.

University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons