Matthew Thomas Parker
22 December 1980
Perth, Western Australia
|Alma mater||University of Western Australia|
|Occupation||Mathematics author and communicator|
|Total views||100.2 million|
Updated: 15 January 2022
Matthew Thomas Parker (born 22 December 1980) is an Australian recreational mathematician, author, comedian, YouTube personality and science communicator. His book Humble Pi was the first maths book in the UK to be a Sunday Times #1 bestseller. Parker was the Public Engagement in Mathematics Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. He is a former maths teacher and has helped popularise maths via his tours and videos.
Parker went to the University of Western Australia and started off studying mechanical engineering before he "realized the very real risk of being employable at the end of it." He switched into physics and later mathematics. His love of maths led him to want a job in the subject.
After college, Parker taught maths in Australia for a while before moving to London and continuing teaching. He became involved in support education, working with universities and other organizations to arrange maths talks. He later went back to teaching, before stopping after one year. He now helps students communicate mathematics to other people, speaks at schools, does media work, and occasionally writes about maths. His goal is "to get more people more excited about maths."
Parker has appeared in numerous YouTube videos, talking about various subjects related to mathematics. He has his own YouTube channel, "Stand-up Maths", with over 900,000 subscribers, and also frequently appears as a guest on other popular channels such as Brady Haran's Numberphile and James May's Head Squeeze (now BritLab). Parker has made videos about unboxing calculators, including the Little Professor; he presents these videos as a member of a fictional "Calculator Appreciation Society". He also appeared in a Tom Scott YouTube video, where they gave tips for users of the London Underground.
In 2012, Parker and fellow comedian Timandra Harkness co-wrote a comedy show called Your Days are Numbered: The Maths of Death. They performed the show in Australia, at the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, on tour around England and in Scotland, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Parker has also toured the UK solo and as part of comedy group Festival of the Spoken Nerd, along with Helen Arney and Steve Mould. His first solo tour, Matt Parker: Number Ninja, finished in July 2013, while his second solo tour, "Matt Parker: Now in 4D", started in late 2014.
In 2014, Parker set up Think Maths, a team of experienced mathematics speakers who visit schools to run workshops and give talks for a wide range of ages and abilities, to show students the wider world of maths beyond school while giving them a chance to develop mathematical thinking skills.
Parker is a regular on BBC Radio Four's Infinite Monkey Cage with Robin Ince and Brian Cox. He has also talked about maths-related topics on BBC News, Sky News, Channel4, CBBC, and occasionally writes for The Guardian. On TV, Parker is a regular commentator on Discovery's Outrageous Acts of Science. For the 2019 edition of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, televised on BBC Four, Parker assisted presenter Hannah Fry in several segments.
In October 2017, Parker started a petition to "Update the UK Traffic Signs Regulations to a geometrically correct football." In a YouTube video, he explained why the current football shape on traffic signs is incorrect and geometrically impossible. Parker described the current signs as a "national embarrassment" and said he hopes the petition will "help raise public awareness and appreciation of geometry." Parker discussed the issue on You Can't Polish A Nerd. According to him, the government initially dismissed the petition because he is a comedian. By November 2017, the petition had gained over 22,000 signatures. The UK government has responded by saying "the current football symbol has a clear meaning and is understood by the public. Changing the design to show accurate geometry is not appropriate in this context." Parker said he felt "like the Department for Transport had not read the petition properly". The official response stated it would be too costly to replace the current signs; however, Parker said he only asked for a "precedent for the new signs". In regards to the exact geometry of a football, Parker said he is "not asking for angles and measurements on the sign, just for it to look more like a football".
Together with another YouTube mathematics populariser, Vi Hart, Parker won the 2018 Communications Award of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics for "communicating the excitement of mathematics to a worldwide audience through YouTube videos, TV and radio appearances, book and newspaper writings, and stand-up comedy".
Parker was awarded the 2020 IMA-LMS Christopher Zeeman Medal in recognition of his "excellence in the communication of mathematics". The award citation highlights work on YouTube, his books, Think Maths, Maths Inspiration, MathsJam, Maths Gear, and his work in broadcast media.
Parker introduced the recreational mathematics concept of a grafting number, an integer with the property that the square root of the integer, when expressed in base b, will contain the original integer itself before or directly after the decimal point (sequence A232087 in the OEIS).
At the 2016 MathsJam Conference, Parker talked about what he called "letterwise magic squares". He believed he was the first to find the magic squares, but on 5 May 2017 he posted a video to explain how the magic squares were more well known as alphamagic squares.
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