History of Mathematics at Manchester

This School was formed in 2004 by the merger of the mathematics departments of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The merger brought together two schools that were of similar size and academic strength. Find out more about our current research and staff, or how to study at the School.

Many famous mathematicians have worked in both schools and their achievements set a standard for us today. 


Cornelius Lanczos (1893–1974)

Cornelius Lanczos

Cornelius Lanczos discovered an exact solution to the Einstein field equation. It is one of the simplest known exact solutions in general relativity and is regarded as an important example. Watch him talk about mathematics, his work with Albert Einstein and his fascinating, restless life during his 1972 visit to UMIST.

We are delighted to make available online a series of video tapes produced in 1972. These historic tapes show Cornelius Lanczos talking about his fascinating and restless life as (among other things) student of Eötvös and Fejér in Hungary, theoretical physicist, assistant of Albert Einstein in Germany, numerical analyst and inventor of the tau method, (re-)discoverer of the fast Fourier transform and singular value decomposition, inventor of the Lanczos algorithm while working at the US National Bureau of Standards, and head of the Theoretical Physics Department at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study. 

In the last years of his long life Lanczos gave excellent lectures at UMIST (a predecessor institution of The University of Manchester), and apparently it was Ronald Butler who initiated the recording of these video tapes. The first tape (55 minutes) is devoted to Lanczos' views on mathematics and his contributions to numerical analysis. The second tape (45 minutes) is autobiographical, and the third tape (54 minutes) contains a discussion about the life and work of Albert Einstein.

  • Thank you to Stefan Güttel who created and hosted an earlier version of the video playing widget above.

    ▲ Up to the top