Ian Stewart (mathematician)

Ian Stewart
Born Ian Nicholas Stewart
(1945-09-24) 24 September 1945[1]
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of Warwick
Alma mater
Thesis Subideals of Lie algebras (1969)
Doctoral advisor Brian Hartley[2]
Known for
Notable awards

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


Stewart was born in 1945 in England. While in the sixth form at school 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. The teacher arranged for Stewart to be admitted to Cambridge on a scholarship to Churchill College, where he obtained a BA in mathematics. Stewart then went to the University of Warwick for his doctorate, on completion of which in 1969 he was offered an academic position at the university, where he presently teaches mathematics. He is well known for his popular expositions of mathematics and his contributions to catastrophe theory.[4]

While at Warwick, Stewart edited the mathematical magazine Manifold.[5] 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).

Research and publications

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][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Stewart has collaborated with Dr 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.[12]

Mathematics and popular science

Science of Discworld series


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.

Stewart was the first recipient of the Christopher Zeeman Medal, awarded jointly by the LMS and the IMA for his work on promoting mathematics.[14]

Personal life

Stewart married his wife, Avril, in 1970.[1] They met at a party at a house Avril was renting while she 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. 1 2 3 4 "STEWART, Prof. Ian Nicholas". Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press.(subscription required)
  2. Ian Stewart at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. 1 2 Ian Stewart's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  4. Bellos, Alex (16 April 2011). "Mathematics of Life by Ian Stewart – review". The Guardian.
  5. "In conversation with Professor Ian Stewart – interview". Chalkdust. 14 March 2016.
  6. 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.
  7. Strogatz, Steve H.; Stewart, Ian (1993). "Coupled oscillators and biological synchronization" (PDF). Scientific American. 269 (6): 102–9. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1293-102. PMID 8266056.
  8. Ashwin, P.; Buescu, J.; Stewart, I. (1996). "From attractor to chaotic saddle: A tale of transverse instability". Nonlinearity. 9 (3): 703. doi:10.1088/0951-7715/9/3/006.
  9. Collins, J. J.; Stewart, I. N. (1993). "Coupled nonlinear oscillators and the symmetries of animal gaits". Journal of Nonlinear Science. 3: 349. doi:10.1007/BF02429870.
  10. Golubitsky, Marty; Stewart, Ian; Buono, Pietro-Luciano; Collins, James J. (1999). "Symmetry in locomotor central pattern generators and animal gaits". Nature. 401 (6754): 693. doi:10.1038/44416. PMID 10537106.
  11. Stewart, I. (2000). "Mathematics. The Lorenz attractor exists". Nature. 406 (6799): 948–9. doi:10.1038/35023206. PMID 10984036.
  12. "Incredible Numbers by Professor Ian Stewart".
  13. http://www.ams.org/notices/200211/rev-holmes.pdf
  14. 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

External links

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