Professor Robert A Wilson
||School of Mathematical Sciences
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
|School Fax :
||+44 (0)20 7882 7684
|Email Address :
||R.A.Wilson [add AT qmul DOT ac DOT uk]|
- In recent years my research has been mainly in applications of
group theory and representation theory in fundamental physics,
where it seems to me the algebra is widely misunderstood, and badly applied.
One result of this is that there is no consistent definition of mass
in physics, which leads to problems both on the large scale
(measuring the mass of a galaxy in order to understand
its dynamics) and the small scale
(understanding how the mass of a proton
relates to the mass of its constituents).
Group theory explains where this problem comes from, and suggests
possible ways to overcome it.
- Prior to that, my research was mainly in finite group theory, and related areas such
as representation theory, some aspects of combinatorics, and computational
techniques and algorithms applicable to finite groups. A specialism is
the sporadic simple groups, especially the MONSTER, a group with
elements. More details can be found on my
- You can find the web-based Atlas of Group Representations (version 3)
- A list of possible research problems.
The following notes and/or slides are from a few of my talks given in a variety of places
during the last 20 or so years.
- Umbral groups. LMS-EPSRC Durham Symposium on New moonshines, mock modular forms and string theory. 04/08/15.
- Simple groups of Lie type without Lie theory. Bielefeld, 12/3/12
(conference in honour of Bernd Fischer's 75th birthday)
- A quaternionic approach to E7 (London Algebra Colloquium, 01/12/11;
Bristol, 01/02/12; Birmingham, 16/02/12).
- The Suzuki groups (York, 03/02/10; Birmingham, 23/03/11;
revised, Manchester 19/02/13).
- A new approach to the Leech lattice (Cambridge, 21/10/09).
- Five lectures on exceptional structures and simple groups
- 248 and all that (Birmingham, 60th birthday conference for Professor Robert Curtis, 21/09/07;
updated: QMUL, 15/10/07; ICMS, Edinburgh, 20/11/07).
- Involution centralizers in matrix group algorithms
(QMUL, 14/11/05; Warwick 17/2/06)
Text also available as: dvi or
- Finite groups with small automorphism groups
(QMUL, 7/10/04; Manchester, 30/11/04; Cambridge, 9/2/05; City, 23/1/06)
Text also available as: dvi or
- The weird and wonderful world of octonions
(QMUL, 13/12/04; Birmingham, 15/2/06).
The text of the talk, plus a bit more, is also available in dvi
format or in ps
- Taming the Monster
(Plenary talk at New Zealand Mathematics Colloquium, Auckland, 4/12/02)
Slides also available as : dvi or
list according to MathSciNet.
For preprints and other information see separate publications page.
My recent work in groups applied to physics is described in the
- Preprints on the arXiv:
- Preprints at the Isaac Newton Institute:
- Preprints on my blog:
- Sylow's original paper proving the Sylow theorems.
Translated from the original French, with annotations.
Sylow, L. (1872), "Théorèmes sur les groupes de substitutions", Mathematische Annalen 5: 584–594, doi:10.1007/BF01442913
Webpage with corrections and additional material.|
| The various
old versions are no longer available.|
Atlas of finite groups|
|by JHConway, RTCurtis, SPNorton,
RAParker and RAWilson|
|Oxford University Press, 1985. Reprint with corrections, 2004|
||Graphs, colourings and the four-colour
|Oxford University Press, 2002.|
|Published on the 150th anniversary of the first recorded statement of the
Webpage (not yet available).|
|by Richard Kaye and Robert Wilson|
|Oxford University Press, 1998.|
Webpage with corrections.|
||The Atlas of Finite Groups: Ten Years On|
|edited by Robert Curtis and Robert Wilson|
|Cambridge University Press, 1998.|
| LMS Lecture Notes.|
||An Atlas of Brauer Characters|
|by CJansen, KLux,
RParker and RWilson|
|Oxford University Press, 1995. Out of print.|
| Webpage (not yet available).
One day the contents of the book may be available here.|
Socrates on innovation in teaching (Xenophon, Memoirs of Socrates, 4.4):
"Of course," Hippias said, "I always try to say something new."
"Even about facts that you know? I mean, if somebody asks you how many letters there are in
'Socrates', and what they are, do you try to say something different now from what
you said before? Or if somebody asked about numbers, whether twice five is ten,
don't you give the same answer now as before?"
An archive of past teaching is kept here.
However, not all links are guaranteed to work (e.g. to model solutions,
or to College information pages).
Current and recently graduated students:
- Current position. At the end of 2016 I took early
retirement from my position as Professor of Mathematics in the School
of Mathematical Sciences
at Queen Mary, University of London, which I had held since September 2004.
My inaugural lecture took place on 2/4/8 (aka Wednesday 2nd April 2008), at 5.30 pm in the Mathematics
Lecture Theatre. You can view the
and the prepared text of the talk (not quite the same as what I actually said),
and listen to the musical interlude (aka the first movement of the Moonshine Sonata
- Brief CV.
- Professor in Algebra and Combimatorics, Queen Mary University of London, 2004-2016.
- Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor, The University of Birmingham.
- Official Fellow and College Lecturer, Girton College, Cambridge. 1986-7.
- Research Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge, 1983-6.
- BA, Part 3, MA, PhD, and Rouse Ball Student, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1975-83.
- LMS Council.
I was elected to the LMS Council as a Member-at-large, for a term of two years,
at the AGM on
20th November 2009. My election statement is archived here. Appointed to the Programme Committee, and
co-opted onto the Working Group for the new LMS web-site. Also appointed Council Diarist from November 2010, to November 2011.
Elected as Programme Secretary, for one year, on 18th November 2011. Re-elected 2012 and 2013. Resigned 2014.
- I was principal viola in the
Sinfonia of Birmingham
for many years, but now sometimes play violin instead. Here is a poster advertising
one of our previous concerts.
I also play in the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, and in other orchestras
and chamber music ensembles from time to time.
- I play the piano occasionally, but with more enthusiasm than accuracy.
- Due to a damaged finger, I was unable to play violin/viola/piano for a while,
and took up the kora as it does not
require the use of that particular finger. The Kora workshop
have supplied me with new strings, and video tutorials.
This page is maintained by Robert Wilson. The
views and opinions expressed in these pages are mine. The contents of
these pages have not been reviewed or approved by Queen Mary, University