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Keith J. Devlin (born 16 March 1947) is a British mathematician and popular science writer. Since 1987 he has lived in the United States. He has dual American-British citizenship.[3]

Keith J. Devlin
Keith Devlin WSF 2011.jpg
Keith Devlin (2011)
Born16 March 1947 (1947-03-16) (age 72)[1][2]
Hull, England[3][4]
NationalityEnglish and American
Alma materKing's College London, University of Bristol
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford University, King's College London, University of Bristol, University of Manchester, University of Aberdeen, University of Oslo, University of Heidelberg, University of Bonn, University of Toronto, University of Lancaster, Colby College, St. Mary's College of California
Doctoral advisorFrederick Rowbottom


He was born and grew up in England, in Kingston upon Hull. There he attended a local primary school followed by Greatfield High School in Hull. In the last school year he was appointed Head Boy. Devlin earned a BSc (Special) in Mathematics at King's College London in 1968, and a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Bristol in 1971 under the supervision of Frederick Rowbottom.[3][5]


Later he got a position as a Scientific Assistant in Mathematics at University of Oslo, Norway from August till December 1972. In 1974 he became a Scientific Assistant in Mathematics at University of Heidelberg, Germany. In 1976 he was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at University of Toronto, Canada. From 1977 till 1987 he served as a Lecturer in Mathematics at University of Lancaster, England. From 2001 till 2009 he was a Consulting Professor, Stanford University: Department of Mathematics at Stanford, California.[6]

He is co-founder and Executive Director of Stanford University's Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute(2006), a co-founder of Stanford Media X university-industry research partnership program, and a Senior Researcher in the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI).[3] He is a commentator on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday, where he is known as "The Math Guy."[7]

His research is mainly focused on the use of different media to teach mathematics to different audiences. He is also co-founder and President the company BrainQuake, which creates mathematics learning video games. He set it up in 2011.[8] Other topics of his research are as following: theory of information, models of reasoning, applications of mathematical techniques in the study of communication, and mathematical cognition.[9]

By 2012 he has been the author of 34 books and over 80 research articles.[3] Several of his books are aimed at an audience of the general public.



  • Devlin, Keith I.; Jensen, R. Björn (1975), "Marginalia to a theorem of Silver", ISILC Logic Conference (Proc. Internat. Summer Inst. and Logic Colloq., Kiel, 1974), Lecture Notes in Mathematics, 499, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 115–142, doi:10.1007/BFb0079419, ISBN 978-3-540-07534-9, MR 0480036 [First proof of Jensen's covering theorem; Keith J. Devlin is credited as Keith I. Devlin in the paper.]
  • Constructibility. Springer. 1984. ISBN 3-540-13258-9.
  • Logic and Information. Cambridge University Press. 1991. ISBN 0-521-49971-2.
  • The Joy of Sets: Fundamentals of Contemporary Set Theory. Springer. 1993. ISBN 0-387-94094-4.
  • Mathematics: The Science of Patterns. Holt Paperbacks. 1996. ISBN 0-8050-7344-2.
  • Goodbye, Descartes: the End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1997. ISBN 0-471-25186-0.
  • The Language of Mathematics: Making the Invisible Visible. Holt Paperbacks. 1998. ISBN 0-8050-7254-3.
  • Mathematics: The New Golden Age. Columbia University Press. 1999. ISBN 0-231-11639-X.
  • Life by the Numbers. Wiley. 1999. ISBN 0471328227.
  • The Math Gene: How Mathematical Thinking Evolved and Why Numbers Are Like Gossip. Basic Books. 2000. ISBN 0-465-01619-7.
  • The Millennium Problems: the Seven Greatest Unsolved Mathematical Puzzles of Our Time. Basic Books. 2002. ISBN 0-465-01730-4.
  • The Math Instinct: Why You're a Mathematical Genius (Along with Lobsters, Birds, Cats, and Dogs). Thunder's Mouth Press. 2006. ISBN 1-56025-839-X.
  • The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS: Solving Crime with Mathematics. Plume. 2007. ISBN 0-452-28857-6. with coauthor Gary Lorden
  • The Unfinished Game: Pascal, Fermat, and the Seventeenth-Century Letter that Made the World Modern. Basic Books. 2008. ISBN 978-0-465-00910-7.
  • The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution. Walker Publishing Co. 2011. ISBN 978-0-8027-7812-3.
  • Mathematics Education for a New Era: Video Games as a Medium for Learning. A K Peters. 2011. ISBN 978-1-56881-431-5.
  • Introduction to Mathematical Thinking. Keith Devlin (18 July 2012). 2012. ISBN 978-0615653631.


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