Mathematics at St John's

St John’s College has a welcoming and well-established mathematical community. We currently have five Teaching Fellows, a number of Research Fellows and four Professors. Every year we are joined by around fifteen undergraduates who come to St John’s to read Mathematics. Any Johnian mathematician automatically becomes a member of the Adams Society!

John Couch Adams

St John’s has a long history of excellence in mathematics. Our society is named after Johnian John Couch Adams (1819-1892) who is best known for predicting the existence of Neptune. John Couch Adams was senior wrangler in 1843. For those new to the term, the Senior Wrangler is the Cambridge mathematics undergraduate who achieved the highest mark in examinations, a tremendous feat back then as it is now.

John Couch Adams predicted the existence and position of the planet Neptune by considering discrepancies with the orbit of Uranus and used Kepler’s and Newton’s laws of planetary motion and gravitation. He held the Lowndean chair of Astronomy and Geometry in Cambridge for 33 years and won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Adams Prize, a prestigous University Mathematics Prize, is named in his honour.

There is a long list of other famous Johnian mathematicians:

  • John Dee (1527-1608), mathematician, astronomer, magician, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Brook Taylor, FRS (1685-1731), known for Taylor’s theorem and Taylor series
  • Fearon Fallows (1789-1831), astronomer
  • Sir John Herschel, FRS (1792-1871), mathematician, astronomer and chemist, Senior Wrangler in 1813
  • James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897), mathematician
  • Sir Joseph Larmor (1857-1942), senior wrangler and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics
  • Paul DiracFRS (1902-1984), Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist
  • Sir Harold Jeffreys, FRS (1891-1989), mathematician, statistician, geophysicist, and astronomer
  • George Barnard (1915-2002), statistician
  • Sir Maurice Wilkes, FRS (1913-2010), one of the founding fathers of modern computer science and inventor of the first stored program digital computer
  • Sir David Cox (*1924), statistician
  • Sir Roger Penrose (*1931), mathematical physicist and philosopher

More information about the course can be found on the St John’s website.

About Us

The Adams Society is the mathematics society of St John’s college, Cambridge. We host numerous events each year including mathematical talks and socials.

More about events.


Free admission to all talks. Refreshments are served in the foyer before each talk.

Our talks usually take place in the Fisher Building, St John’s College.

Direction and map.


Get in touch through our committee members or email

Our committee members.

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