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Fellows Directory

Keith Ball

Professor Keith Ball FRS


Elected: 2013


Keith Ball is a pure mathematician who specialises in the fields of functional analysis and information theory. In collaboration, he solved a longstanding question in information theory concerning whether the central limit theorem of probability is driven by an analogue of the second law of thermodynamics. Keith’s solution made use of a new formula for information.

Among Keith’s proofs in functional analysis is one relating to Tarski’s ‘plank’ problem in many dimensions. The plank problem derives its name from a question concerning the minimum number of planks required to cover a convex tabletop.

During his career, Keith served as the scientific director of the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences. He has received the Whitehead Prize of the London Mathematical Society, amongst other awards. Keith is the author of Strange Curves, Counting Rabbits, and other Mathematical Explorations (2006) — a recreational maths book aimed at those familiar with basic calculus.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


discrete geometry, Functional analysis, Information theory