Professor Kevin Buzzard, Professor of Pure Mathematics, Mathematics

I left a Cambridge Junior Research Fellowship to take up a full-time lectureship position at Imperial 20 years ago and I have never looked back.

I am now a professor of pure mathematics and I specialise in algebraic number theory. I have been a visitor at the IAS in Princeton, a visiting lecturer at Harvard, have won several prizes both for my research and my teaching, and have given lectures all around the world.

I have recently become interested in applications of computer science to mathematical theorem proving. Computers can now easily beat humans at chess — when will they be able to beat humans at mathematics? I run the Xena Project, an informal computer club where I teach undergraduate mathematicians how to explain undergraduate level mathematical results to a computer. In return, the computer checks their mathematical ideas. If they compile, the argument is correct. This gamifies mathematics, gives instant feedback to the student, and relieves staff from marking. But what I find most exciting about this project is that now our undergraduate students are better at it than the staff. I am beginning to integrate these ideas more into my undergraduate teaching, and Imperial have agreed to fund an education specialist who will interview students taking my course and attempt to discover whether my intervention makes a difference. Imperial College has been extremely supportive with this rather drastic recent change of direction in my research and teaching perspectives, and I believe that this is because from the top down this university has a deep-rooted interest in trying out new ideas.

When I am not doing this, I am co-director of a CDT, deputy head of pure mathematics, and the department’s outreach champion.

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