Blackett Lecture

Our 2020 Speaker details will be available soon.  See below details of last year's speaker.

Wednesday 27 November 2019, 16:30
Royal Society
6-9 Carlton Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

16:00 Registration
16:30 Awards and Lecture
18:00 Networking until 19:00

What is the Blackett Lecture?

The Blackett Memorial Lecture is a major event in the Society’s calendar. It provides a high profile forum for leading national and international speakers from public life, academia and/or industry to address the membership and the general public on subjects relevant to current affairs and the advancement of society, in the context of Operational Research and the related areas of Analytics, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

This FREE event is open to members and non-members of The OR Society, but online registration is compulsory for all attendees. If you have any queries, please contact Sarah Parry on [email protected]

Talk Title: From high performance teams to a high performance economy; lessons from winning Olympic gold for building a better world

Abstract: If a society is to deliver high standards of living it first needs to deliver high levels of innovation, productivity and performance. But how do we achieve high levels of innovation, productivity and performance throughout the economy? We will take a look at modern approaches to high performance as practiced by formula one, Olympic sports from cycling to skiing, and high performance engineering teams to find some answers, many of which originate in operations research, and consider how me might transform the UK economy and tackle some of the most important global challenges by applying these ideas more widely.

Philip Bond.png

Professor Philip Bond
Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the University of Manchester, a Fellow at Oxford and Visiting Professor at Bristol University.


Philip studied physics, theoretical physics, applied mathematics, finance and pure mathematics before working as a professional trader and hedge fund manager. He then started a consultancy specializing in problem solving across a wide range of activities including F1, aerospace, government and Olympic sports. He also heads research and innovation for the GB Olympic ski and snowboard teams at GB Snowsport and sits on the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology. He chaired the CST subcommittee on artificial intelligence and robotics that led to subsequent new funding of over a billion pounds into those sectors and is currently chairing subcommittee projects on UK productivity, and learning. He chaired the Era of Mathematics – An Independent Review of Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences which recommended substantial increases in funding and new infrastructure to support the mathematical sciences and expand their range of impact. He is a fellow in the department of mathematics at Oxford, holds visiting professorships in engineering mathematics and computer science at Bristol University, and is Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the University of Manchester. He has twice held the Guinness world record for the memorisation of the number pi.

Who was Patrick Blackett?

Since 1975, The Operational Research Society's annual lecture has been known as the Blackett Memorial Lecture in honour of Lord Patrick Blackett.

A physicist, Nobel prizewinner and one-time president of the Royal Society, Blackett was one of the pioneers of operational research (OR) during World War 2, when he advocated the employment of scientists to advise on matters of strategy and tactics. Learn more about Patrick Blackett in our light-hearted 'Draw my life' animation:

Royal Society building

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK and the Commonwealth, dedicated to promoting excellence in science.


Previous Blackett Memorial Lectures

Blackett 2018: OR in the age of AI

Sir Alan Wilson FRS FAcSS FBA

Sir Alan discusses OR in a new age in four parts: the starting point; the impact of AI; OR in the age of AI; and the future.

View Sir Alan's 2018 Blackett Lecture

Blackett 2017: Towards a Science of the Web

Sir Nigel Shadbolt FREng FRS

Sir Nigel’s fascinating presentation expanded on the “growing recognition that the ecosystem that is the Web needs to be treated as an important and coherent area of study—this is web science.”

Watch Sir Nigel's full presentation

Blackett 2016: Machines that learn: big data or explanatory models?

Professor Andrew Blake

Professor Blake discussed the common conflict faced by modellers whether to use an empirical classifier or some form of generative model.

See Professor Blake's talk in full

Blackett 2015: In defence of big data

Kenneth Cukier

On the face of it, this seems a bit of a strange title for a talk to The OR Society but Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor of The Economist who presented this year’s Blackett Memorial Lecture, soon made it clear that it was actually a very appropriate title.

Watch Kenneth Cukier's Lecture

Opportunities and challenges for the NHS

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh

Communicating risk and deeper uncertainty

David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE

2050 pathways

Professor David MacKay FRS