Robin Wilson (mathematician) bigraphy, stories - British mathematician

Robin Wilson (mathematician) : biography

5 December 1943 -
This article is about Robin Wilson the mathematician. For the musician, see Robin Wilson.

Robin James Wilson (born 5 December 1943) is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at the Open University, a Stipendiary Lecturer at Pembroke College, Oxford and, , Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, where he has also been a visiting professor. On occasion, he guest teaches at Colorado College.

From January 1999 to September 2003, Robin Wilson was editor-in-chief of the European Mathematical Society Newsletter.European Mathematical Society Newsletter, No 49, September 2003, ISSN 1027 - 488X

He is the son of Harold Wilson, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Other interests

He has strong interests in music, including the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, and is the co-author (with Frederic Lloyd) of Gilbert and Sullivan: The Official D'Oyly Carte Picture History.Knopf, 1984. ISBN 978-0-394-54113-6 In 2007 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.

Other publications

Wilson has written or edited about thirty books to date, including popular books on sudoku and the Four Color Theorem:

  • The Great Mathematicians (with Raymond Flood), Arcturus Publishing Ltd, 2011: ISBN 1-84837-902-1
  • Hidden Word Sudoku, Infinite Ideas Limited 2005: ISBN 1-904902-74-X
  • How to Solve Sudoku, Infinite Ideas Limited 2005: ISBN 1-904902-62-6
  • Sherlock Holmes in Babylon and Other Tales of Mathematical History (co-edited with Marlow Anderson and Victor Katz), The Mathematical Association of America, 2004: ISBN 0-88385-546-1
  • Mathematics and Music: From Pythagoras to Fractals (co-edited with John Fauvel & Raymond Flood), Oxford University Press, 2003: ISBN 0-19-851187-6
  • Four Colours Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved, Allen Lane (Penguin), 2002: ISBN 0-7139-9670-6
  • Stamping through Mathematics, Springer, 2001: ISBN 0-387-98949-8
  • Oxford Figures: 800 Years of the Mathematical Sciences (with John Fauvel & Raymond Flood), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000: ISBN 0-19-852309-2
  • Graphs and Applications: An Introductory Approach (with Joan Aldous), Springer, 2000: ISBN 1-85233-259-X
  • Mathematical Conversations: Selections from the Mathematical Intelligencer (with J. Gray), Springer, 2000: ISBN 0-387-98686-3
  • An Atlas of Graphs (with R.C. Read), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998: ISBN 0-19-853289-X (paperback edition, 2002: ISBN 0-19-852650-4)
  • Graph Theory 1736-1936 (with Norman L. Biggs and Keith Lloyd), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976: ISBN 0-19-853901-0


Professor Wilson's academic interests lie in graph theory, particularly in colouring problems, e.g. the four colour problem, and algebraic properties of graphs.

He also researches the history of mathematics, particularly British mathematics and mathematics in the 17th century and the period 1860 to 1940 and the history of graph theory and combinatorics.

Due to his collaboration on a 1977 paper with the noted Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős, Wilson has an Erdős number of 1.

In July 2008 he published a study of the mathematical work of Lewis Carroll, the creator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-GlassLewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life.Allen Lane, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7139-9757-6


  • University College School (an independent school), in Hampstead, North London.
  • BA First Class Honours in Mathematics from Balliol College, Oxford
  • MA from the University of Pennsylvania
  • PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (1965–1968)
  • BA First Class Honours in Humanities with Music from the Open University.
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