Neumann Prize

Neumann Prize

The British Society for the History of Mathematics is delighted to announce that the Neumann Prize for 2021 has been awarded to Tony Royle, for his book The Flying Mathematicians of World War I

The following citation was provided by the 2021 Neumann Prize panel, Professor Chris Budd (University of Bath), Professor Serafina Cuomo (University of Durham), and Dr. Ciarán Mac an Bhaird (Maynooth University).

This book provides a fascinating insight into the extraordinary commitments made to improve aircraft operation and performance during the tumultuous second decade of the 20th century. It focusses on a group of young mathematicians who developed innovative theories and added new approaches to this field. Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the story is the very high mortality rate of these scientists, many of whom flew the test planes themselves. The author does an excellent job of guiding us through the individual life stories and a history of human flight, while also describing the technical details, including a wealth of information on the underlying mathematics behind aircraft flight, with obvious expertise and clarity, to provide a compelling, historiographically up-to-date, and informative, narrative.

Details of the 2023 Neumann Prize will be announced in early 2023.


The biennial Neumann Prize is awarded for a book in English (including books in translation) dealing with the history of mathematics and aimed at a non-specialist readership. There is no further restriction on the subject matter, nor on the nationality of the author or the country of publication. However, the following will not be considered: 

  • Books submitted previously for consideration for the Neumann Prize
  • Edited collections
  • Second and subsequent editions, unless they are very substantially different from the earlier editions 
  • Books by members of BSHM Council in the year of the award, or by the editor of the BJHM (see  

The prize is named in honour of the late Peter M. Neumann O.B.E., a former President and longstanding contributor to the Society.  The value of the prize is £1000.  

Previous winners

2019: Martin Beech. Going Underground

2017: Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman.  A Mind at Play 

2015: Sydney Padua, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

2013:  Jacqueline Stedall. The history of mathematics: A very short introduction

2011: Clifford A. Pickover, The Math Book

2009: Reviel Netz and William Noel, The Archimedes Codex