Marcus is a Vice President of the Hay Festival. He regularly performs and chairs events at the festival and has participated in many of the International Hay festivals around the world including: India, Bangladesh, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Hungary. He was one of the driving forces behind the highly successful Hay-level videos, 3 minute videos by authors and academics aimed at students doing A levels.
Marcus has helped to set up an internet maths school called Mangahigh.com that uses online games to teach the mathematics curriculum. The school is used across the world: from the UK to the USA, from Australia to Brazil.
Marcus works with Richard Rhys at the Pattern Foundry to create new patterns and tiles including The Ghost Tile. This tile is inspired by one of Marcus’s favourite tiles in the Alhambra palace in Grenada. It is based on tessellating triangles, but instead of straight edges the sides are undulating waves that go in and out of the triangle. Reminding him of a musical note, Marcus experimented with varying the frequency of the wave on each side of the triangle to create a chord. If you combine the three notes on the sides you get notes that are in a 1 to 2 and 2 to 3 relationship. These are the harmonic frequencies discovered by Pythagoras. The tile thus became an attempt to capture the idea of frozen music. The waves are perturbed to bring out the inherent ghost like quality of the motif. The result is a surprising shape which doesn’t look like it will repeat.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Marcus was the mathematical advisor on the National Theatre’s award winning production of Mark Haddon’s book A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Through a series of workshops, he helped to stage Christopher’s solution to his A level maths question about Pythagorean Triples as an appendix to the play. He also wrote the mathematical notes for the programme to the production.
Marcus has started a project using maths to raise money for Common Hope, an educational charity supporting and empowering children and their families in Guatemala through education. People have stars named after them, craters on the moon, even comets…but how about naming a symmetrical object in hyperspace? Marcus du Sautoy has discovered some significant new symmetrical objects but they currently have no names. For a donation of £10 or more you can have one of these new symmetrical object named after you or a friend. Each symmetrical object is made bespoke. It is possible to weave three significant numbers into the construction of the object to commemorate a birthday or anniversary or any other significant event. So far the project has raised over £20,000 for the charity.
Marcus has been collaborating with Complicite and Simon McBurney for many years. He was the mathematical advisor on the company’s production of A Disappearing Number. He contributed many mathematical and theatrical workshops for the company and also helped develop and deliver a programme of workshops for theatre and mathematics teachers based on the play. He has gone on to collaborate with McBurney on his recent production The Encounter exploring the themes of consciousness and time.