Neumann Prize

Neumann Prize

The 2019 Neumann Prize has been awarded. Details for entry to the 2021 Prize will be released in due course.

The Neumann Prize is awarded biennially for a book in English (including books in translation) dealing with the history of mathematics and aimed at a non-specialist readership.  There is no further restriction on the subject matter, nor on the nationality of the author or the country of publication, however edited collections will not be considered.

The prize is named in honour of Peter M. Neumann O.B.E., a former President and longstanding contributor to the Society.  The value of the prize is £1000.  A list of past prize-winners can be found below.

Nominations for the prize are invited from individuals and publishers. Nominations should be sent to the chair of the judging panel, Isobel Falconer, at  Publishers should send three copies of their nominated book(s) to Dr Isobel Falconer, Chair, BSHM Neumann Prize panel, Mathematical Institute, North Haugh, St Andrews, KY16 9SS.

If you have published any books that could qualify and would like them considered by the Neumann Prize panel please send three copies to Isobel Falconer as above.


Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman A Mind at Play (Simon & Schuster, 2017)

In this first major book on one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman bring Claude Shannon, the man who loved to ‘tinker’, to life.  They eloquently convey how it was that he had such innovative ideas and what motivated him to work on them, and they explain the essentials of information theory and how it shaped the modern world in a charming and illuminating way.  As they themselves say, they tell the story from the ‘bottom-up’ and, in their process of discovery, they show their readers the importance of Shannon’s ideas rather than, as so many books about mathematics do, simply tell them.  This makes the book supremely readable.


Norman Biggs Quite Right (Oxford University Press, 2016)

This is an innovative approach to a short history of mathematics: seeing it through the prism of measurement and money.  The ideas are described in an accessible way and illustrated with high-quality diagrams and photographs which add richness to the text.  The book is both mathematical and a proper history always emphasizing documentary evidence.  It is well written with good quick précis at the start of each chapter, and with some unexpected humour. Norman Biggs is an author at the top of his game, easily able to summarise a wide range of thought and thinkers.

Previous winners

2015: Sydney Padua, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

2013:  Jacqueline Stedall. The history of mathematics: A very short introduction

2011: Clifford A. Pickover, The Math Book

2009: Reviel Netz and William Noel, The Archimedes Codex