Neumann Prize

Neumann Prize

The BSHM are delighted to announce that the 2023 Neumann Prize winner is Stephen M. Stigler for his book Casanova's Lottery: The History of a Revolutionary Game of Chance, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, 2022; 243 pp., ISBN: 9780226820798, paperback $22.50.

The BSHM Neumann Prize Committee considered a deep pool of outstanding nominations this year and would like to congratulate author Stephen Stigler.

This excellent book blends compelling mathematical content with fascinating historical context as it describes the remarkable story of the French lottery (Loterie) established in 1757. The lottery scheme was a suggestion from Giacomo Casanova and – apart from a brief pause during the French Revolution – it flourished until 1836, contributing substantially to the French exchequer. Stigler relies on a rich array of primary source materials, including rediscovered original lottery documents, for evidence of sound mathematical calculations that supported the French state’s willingness to risk significant loss during each individual draw due to the assurance of longer-term gains. Emergent questions in probability captured the interest of mathematicians contemporary with Casanova, including d’Alembert and Laplace. This narrative intertwines accessible yet thorough analysis of the inner workings of Casanova’s unique lottery and situates the story within the broader perspective of lotteries across Europe through his attempts to establish similar schemes in other countries.

—From the BSHM Neumann Prize Committee (Professor Chris Budd, Dr Deborah Kent, Dr Ciarán Mac an Bhaird (Chair)).

The next call for the BSHM Neumann Prize will be announced early in 2025. The prize is awarded for a book in English (including books in translation) dealing with the history of mathematics, aimed at a non-specialist readership, and published in 2023 or later. There is no further restriction on the subject matter, nor on the nationality of the author or the country of publication. However, the following will not be considered: 

  • Books submitted previously for consideration for the Neumann Prize
  • Edited collections
  • Second and subsequent editions, unless they are very substantially different from the earlier editions 
  • Books by members of BSHM Council in the year of the award, or by the editor of the BJHM (see  

The prize is named in honour of the late Peter M. Neumann O.B.E., a former President and longstanding contributor to the Society.  The value of the prize is £1000.  

Nominations for the prize are invited from individuals and publishers. 

Previous winners

2021: Tony Royle. The Flying Mathematicians of World War I

2019: Martin Beech. Going Underground

2017: Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman.  A Mind at Play 

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