Robert MacKay

Director of Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research
(Founding Principal Investigator)
Office Phone
University of Warwick, Coventry, England

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; Astrophysical Sciences; Ph.D., 1982


Robert MacKay FRS CPhys FInstP CMath FIMA is a Professor in the Mathematics Institute of the University of Warwick and Director of Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research at Warwick. He was founding Director of Warwick’s Centre for Complexity Science from 2007-15 and President of the (UK) Institute of Mathematics and its Applications for 2012-13.

He has made many contributions to the theory and applications of Nonlinear Dynamics. Highlights are the discovery and renormalisation explanation of how invariant tori break for magnetic fields, development of a method to establish regions through which no invariant tori pass, a proof of existence of spatially localised time-periodic movements in networks of oscillators and analysis of their stability, interaction and mobility, construction and proof of a mechanical example of an Anosov system (uniformly hyperbolic), and the construction of indecomposable spatially extended deterministic dynamical systems exhibiting more than one space-time phase. His research was recognised by the first Stephanos Pnevmatikos International Award for Research in Nonlinear Phenomena (1993), Junior (1994) and Senior (2015) Whitehead prizes of the London Mathematical Society, election to Fellowships of the Royal Society (2000), the (UK) Institute of Physics (2000) and the (UK) Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (2003), and entry to the ISI Highly cited list under Mathematics in 2008.

He has extensive research leadership and management experience, including establishing and running the Nonlinear Systems Laboratory at Warwick with Rand (1986-95) and the Nonlinear Centre in Cambridge (1995-2000), contributing scientific direction to a King's College Cambridge research programme on Spatially Extended Dynamics (1998-2002), winning and coordinating an EC Research and Training Network on "Localisation and energy transfer" (2000-4), leading 8 other research projects and taking part in many more, taking over Directorship of Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research at Warwick in 2000, establishing the "Complexity Complex" in 2006 (an association of research activities in Complexity Science at the University of Warwick) and the Centre for Complexity Science in 2007 with Ball, including its doctoral training centre in Complexity Science and follow-up on Mathematics for real-world systems, and supervising 29 PhD students and 34 postdoctoral researchers.

His current research interests are in Robustness of near-integrability for magnetic fields with low or reversing shear, Cross-field energy transport by interaction of charged particles in a magnetic field, Action-minimising orbits for Lagrangian systems, Discommensurations for tilted Frenkel-Kontorova chains, Dynamic optimisation for energy stores, Bifurcation diagrams for families of vector fields on a torus, Aggregation methods for Markov flows, Management of complex systems, Avoiding synchronization in frequency-sensitive demand management of electrical power, Detection of oscillations in power flow, Inferring value from market prices, Propagation of value by constrained investors, Design of panel assessments, and Riemann’s hypothesis.