Students Staff

31 May 2013

Essex book celebrating the “everlasting wonder” of maths scoops Italian prize

Colchester Campus

Professor Peter Higgins

Professor Peter Higgins.

A University of Essex mathematician with a commitment to popularising maths has won a top Italian award in recognition of his efforts.

Professor Peter Higgins is the latest in a long list of prestigious winners of the Premio Peano, an annual award celebrating readable books that make maths accessible to all. He will accept the award at a ceremony in Turin this autumn.

Awarded by the Assoiciazione Subalpina Mathesis, the Premio Peano 2012 will go to Professor Higgins’ book Nets, Puzzles, and Postmen: An Exploration of Mathematical Connections, published in Italy in 2012 as La matematica dei social network: Una introduzione alla teoria dei grafi.

Previous British winners of the prize include Professor Marcus du Sautoy holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, and Professor Ian Stewart of Warwick University, both of whom have previously given the BBC’s Royal Society Christmas Lectures.

Nets, Puzzles, and Postmen: An Exploration of Mathematical Connections, was published in the UK in 2007 by Oxford University Press. It explores the maths behind networks, from social networks and the internet, to ancient mazes, secret codes, and even the genetic structure of life itself. Rarely using technical language, the book even revealed the instability of banking networks before the 2008 crash.

Professor Higgins said: “This is the third of a series of books written for Oxford University Press that celebrate the everlasting wonder of mathematics. I gave this particular book on social networks to the Deputy Prime Minister last year when he visited Colchester because it explained (in 2007) how unstable was the international financial and banking network. I was not alone in saying this at the time but at least I can point to it appearing in print before the catastrophic collapse of 2008.”


Notes to editors
For further information, or a picture of Professor Higgins, please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone: 01206 873529 or e-mail:

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