9th September 1996


World's leading centre for mathematics gets 1 million pound boost

A 35 year old Cambridge maths graduate - turned Silicon Valley multimillionaire - is to give 1 million pounds towards a new centre for maths at Cambridge.

Nick Corfield graduated from Cambridge and went to the States to work on a PhD. He made his millions after spotting a gap during the software boom in the Eighties when he decided to try his hand at business, rather than pursuing a research career.

It's clear that he wasn't turning his back on maths though. Corfield, now based in Palo Alto, California, is motivated to support Cambridge because of the value he attaches to mathematics and he's quite clear that Cambridge leads the world:

"If anyone doubts the value of mathematics, I hope that seeing a businessman part with hard-earned dollars will convince them."

"Mathematics is fundamental to mankind and Cambridge can be proud of its world leading status. I know the new Centre for Mathematics is crucial and I am very keen to support it."

Mathematics at Cambridge

Cambridge is widely recognised to be the world's leading centre for maths but its bricks and mortar cramp its brilliance and grey matter.

A 25 million pound Centre for Mathematical Sciences is planned which will help Cambridge retain its pre-eminence. The mathematical tradition stretches back to when it was one of the first subjects studied at Cambridge, to the work of Isaac Newton, the pioneering work on computers of Babbage, Wilkes and Turing, the prediction of antimatter by Dirac, today's achievements at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and the world-famous ideas of Stephen Hawking.

The proposed new Centre is strongly supported by Professor Hawking, who has said that the Faculty is "one of the strongest, if not the strongest, in the world" and must expand out of its present outdated buildings in order to maintain its leadership.

Nick Corfield

Corfield graduated from Cambridge in 1982 after being taught by some of the best mathematicians in the world. He went to Columbia to do a PhD. However, when he realised the path to an academic position was a difficult one, he turned his hand to business. He founded Frame Technology Corporation in 1986. Its flagship product, FrameMaker, became the market leader in technical publishing. Corfield's company was acquired by Adobe Systems last year.

Corfield has recently returned from climbing Everest - he has a keen interest in mountain climbing and high altitude physiology.

For further information, please contact:

Susie Thomas, Press and Information Officer, University of Cambridge Tel: 01223 332300


Mathematics at Cambridge is widely recognised as an international centre of excellence. It has the largest concentration of mathematics students in the UK and carries out world-leading research in pure and applied mathematics, including work on the creation of the Universe, jet engine noise, efficient design of telephone networks, the depletion of the ozone layer, and Fermat's Last Theorem.

There are more than 300 staff, of whom no less than 26 are Fellows of the Royal Society, and over 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The University has an ambitious plan to build a new Centre for Mathematical Sciences, and has to raise a total of 25 million pounds to achieve it.

The new Centre will be built alongside the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences which has carved itself an international reputation since it opened in 1992.