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Sylvester Medal

For the encouragement of mathematical research.

James Joseph Sylvester FRS

The award

The Sylvester Medal is awarded biennially (in even years) “for the encouragement of mathematical research”. 

The award was created in memory of the mathematician James Joseph Sylvester FRS (PDF), who was Savilian Professor of Geometry at the University of Oxford in the 1880s. It was first awarded in 1901. Originally it was awarded triennially, but from 2010 it is now awarded biennially in even years.

The medal is of bronze and is accompanied by a gift of £2,000.


The call for nominations is now closed. The next round of nominations will open in November 2017.

The award is open to citizens of a Commonwealth country or of the Irish Republic or those who have been ordinarily resident and working in a Commonwealth country or in the Irish Republic for a minimum of 3 years immediately prior to being proposed.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Physical Sciences Awards Committee. The committee will consider the nomination a maximum of 3 times, before the nomination is retired. Re-nomination is possible after 1 round has passed.

Past winners

Professor Ben Green FRS was awarded the Sylvester Medal in 2014 for his famous result on primes in arithmetic progression, and his subsequent proofs of a number of spectacular theorems over the last five to ten years.

John Toland was awarded the Medal in 2012 for his original theorems and remarkable discoveries in nonlinear partial differential equations, including applications to water waves.

See full list of all past winners of the Sylvester Medal.