Senior Wrangler

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The Senior Wrangler, achiever of "academic supremacy", is admitted to his degree, 1842 Senior Wrangler 1842.jpg
The Senior Wrangler, achiever of "academic supremacy", is admitted to his degree, 1842
In accordance with tradition, results of the Mathematical Tripos are thrown from the Senate House balcony, 2005 Mathmo results.jpg
In accordance with tradition, results of the Mathematical Tripos are thrown from the Senate House balcony, 2005

The Senior Wrangler is the top mathematics undergraduate at Cambridge University in England, a position which has been described as "the greatest intellectual achievement attainable in Britain." [1]


Specifically, it is the person who achieves the highest overall mark among the Wranglers – the students at Cambridge who gain first-class degrees in mathematics. The Cambridge undergraduate mathematics course, or Mathematical Tripos, is famously difficult.

Many Senior Wranglers have become world-leading figures in mathematics, physics, and other fields. They include George Airy, John Herschel, Arthur Cayley, James Inman, George Stokes, Isaac Todhunter, Morris Pell, Lord Rayleigh, Arthur Eddington, J. E. Littlewood, Jayant Narlikar, Frank Ramsey, Donald Coxeter, Jacob Bronowski, Lee Hsien Loong, Kevin Buzzard, Christopher Budd, Ben Green, and John Polkinghorne.

Senior Wranglers were once fêted with torchlit processions and took pride of place in the University's graduation ceremony. [2] Years in Cambridge were often remembered by who had been Senior Wrangler that year. [1]

The annual ceremony in which the Senior Wrangler becomes known was first held in the 18th century. Standing on the balcony of the University's Senate House, the examiner reads out the class results for mathematics, [3] and printed copies of the results are then thrown to the audience below. The examiner no longer announces the students' exact rankings, but they still identify the Senior Wrangler, nowadays by tipping their academic hat when reading out the person's name.

Others who finished in the top 12

The difficulty of the examinations is illustrated by the identities of some of those who have performed well, but less well than the Senior Wrangler.

Those who have achieved second place, known as Second Wranglers, include Alfred Marshall, James Clerk Maxwell, J. J. Thomson, Lord Kelvin, William Clifford, and William Whewell.

Those who have finished between third and 12th include Karl Pearson and William Henry Bragg (third), George Green and G. H. Hardy (fourth), Adam Sedgwick (fifth), John Venn (sixth), Bertrand Russell and Nevil Maskelyne (seventh), Thomas Malthus (ninth), and John Maynard Keynes (12th).


Between 1748 and 1909, the University publicly announced the ranking, [4] which was then reported in newspapers such as The Times . The examination was considered to be by far the most important in Britain and the Empire. The prestige of being a high Wrangler was great; the respect accorded to the Senior Wrangler was immense. Andrew Warwick, author of Masters of Theory, describes the term 'Senior Wrangler' as "synonymous with academic supremacy". [5]

Since 1910, successful students in the examinations have been told their rankings privately, and not all Senior Wranglers have become publicly known as such. In recent years, the custom of discretion regarding ranking has progressively vanished, and all Senior Wranglers since 2010 have announced their identity publicly.

The youngest person to be Senior Wrangler is probably Arran Fernandez, who came top in 2013, aged 18 years and 0 months. [6] The previous youngest was probably James Wilkinson in 1939, aged 19 years and 9 months. [7] The youngest up to 1909 were Alfred Flux in 1887, aged 20 years and 2 months [8] and Peter Tait in 1852, aged 20 years and 8 months. [9]

Two individuals have placed first without becoming known as Senior Wrangler. One was the student Philippa Fawcett in 1890. At that time, although the University allowed women to take the examinations, it did not allow them to be members of the University, nor to receive degrees. Therefore they could not be known as 'Wranglers', and were merely told how they had performed compared to the male candidates, for example, "equal to the Third Wrangler", or "between the Seventh and Eighth Wranglers". Having gained the highest mark, Fawcett was declared to have finished "above the Senior Wrangler".

The other was the mathematics professor George Pólya. As he had contributed to reforming the Tripos with the aim that an excellent performance would be less dependent on solving hard problems and more so on showing a broad mathematical understanding and knowledge, G.H. Hardy asked Pólya to sit the examinations himself, unofficially, during his stay in England in 1924–5. Pólya did so, and to Hardy's surprise, received the highest mark, an achievement which, had he been a student, would have made him the Senior Wrangler. [10]

Derived uses of the term

Senior Wrangler's Walk is a path in Cambridge, the walk to and along which was considered to be sufficient constitutional exercise for a student aspiring to become the Senior Wrangler. The route was shorter than other walks, such as Wranglers' Walk and the Grantchester Grind, undertaken by undergraduates whose aspirations were lower. [11]

Senior Wrangler sauce is a Cambridge term for brandy butter, a type of hard sauce made from brandy, butter, and sugar, traditionally served in Britain with Christmas pudding and warm mince pies. [12]

Senior Wrangler is also the name of a solitaire card game, alternatively known as Mathematics and Double Calculation, played with two decks of cards and involving elementary modular arithmetic. [13] [14]

Literary references

Fictional Senior Wranglers appearing in novels include Roger Hamley, a character in Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, and Tom Jericho, the cryptanalyst in Robert Harris's novel Enigma , who is described as having been Senior Wrangler in 1938.

In George Bernard Shaw's play Mrs. Warren's Profession , the title character's daughter Vivie is praised for "tieing with the third wrangler," and she comments that "the mathematical tripos" means "grind, grind, grind for six to eight hours a day at mathematics, and nothing but mathematics."

In Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End , the character Christopher Tietjens is described as having settled deliberately for only being Second Wrangler, in order to avoid the weight of expectation that the title would create.

In his Discworld series of novels, Terry Pratchett has a character called the Senior Wrangler, a faculty member at the Unseen University, whose first name is Horace.

The compiler of crosswords for The Leader in the 1930s used 'Senior Wrangler' as a pseudonym. [15]


The two most successful 19th-century coaches of Senior Wranglers were William Hopkins and Edward Routh. Hopkins, the 'Senior Wrangler Maker', who himself was the 7th Wrangler, coached 17 Senior Wranglers. Routh, who had himself been the Senior Wrangler, coached 27. [16] Another, described by his student (and Senior Wrangler) J.E. Littlewood as "the last of the great coaches", was another Senior Wrangler, Robert Alfred Herman. [17]

Senior Wranglers and runners up, 1748–1909

During 1748–1909, the top two colleges in terms of number of Senior Wranglers were Trinity and St John's with 56 and 54 respectively. Gonville and Caius was third with 13.

William Paley, Senior Wrangler, 1763. WilliamPaley.jpg
William Paley, Senior Wrangler, 1763.
Sir Frederick Pollock, 1st Baronet, Senior Wrangler, 1806. FrederickPollock.jpg
Sir Frederick Pollock, 1st Baronet, Senior Wrangler, 1806.
John Herschel, Senior Wrangler, 1813. John Herschel by Jula Margaret Cameron, Abril 1867.jpg
John Herschel, Senior Wrangler, 1813.
George Biddell Airy, Senior Wrangler, 1823. George Biddell Airy.jpg
George Biddell Airy, Senior Wrangler, 1823.
George Gabriel Stokes, Senior Wrangler, 1841. George Gabriel Stokes.jpg
George Gabriel Stokes, Senior Wrangler, 1841.
Arthur Cayley, Senior Wrangler, 1842. Arthur Cayley.jpg
Arthur Cayley, Senior Wrangler, 1842.
John Couch Adams, Senior Wrangler, 1843. John Couch Adams.jpg
John Couch Adams, Senior Wrangler, 1843.
Isaac Todhunter, Senior Wrangler, 1848. Todhunter Isaac.jpg
Isaac Todhunter, Senior Wrangler, 1848.
Peter Guthrie Tait, who at 20 years 8 months in 1852 was younger than all previous Senior Wranglers. Tait Peter Guthrie.jpg
Peter Guthrie Tait, who at 20 years 8 months in 1852 was younger than all previous Senior Wranglers.
Edward Routh, Senior Wrangler in 1854 and coach to many subsequent Senior Wranglers. Edward J Routh.jpg
Edward Routh, Senior Wrangler in 1854 and coach to many subsequent Senior Wranglers.
John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, Senior Wrangler, 1865. John William Strutt.jpg
John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, Senior Wrangler, 1865.
Thomas Oliver Harding, Senior Wrangler, 1863. T O Harding, Trinity College, senior wrangler.png
Thomas Oliver Harding, Senior Wrangler, 1863.
Donald MacAlister, Senior Wrangler, 1877. The postcard portrait is a sign of the fame associated with the position of Senior Wrangler. Young Donald MacAlister.jpg
Donald MacAlister, Senior Wrangler, 1877. The postcard portrait is a sign of the fame associated with the position of Senior Wrangler.
Philippa Fawcett, ranked "above the Senior Wrangler" in 1890. Phillipafawcett.jpg
Philippa Fawcett, ranked "above the Senior Wrangler" in 1890.
Thomas John I'Anson Bromwich, Senior Wrangler, 1895. Thomas John Bromwich.jpg
Thomas John I'Anson Bromwich, Senior Wrangler, 1895.
Arthur Eddington, Senior Wrangler, 1904 Arthur Stanley Eddington.jpg
Arthur Eddington, Senior Wrangler, 1904
Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, Senior Wrangler in the 1940s Peter Swinnerton-Dyer.jpeg
Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, Senior Wrangler in the 1940s
Michael Edward Ash, Senior Wrangler, 1948 Michael Edward Ash.jpg
Michael Edward Ash, Senior Wrangler, 1948
Jayant Narlikar, Senior Wrangler, 1959 Jayant Vishnu Narlikar - Kolkata 2007-03-20 07324.jpg
Jayant Narlikar, Senior Wrangler, 1959
Lee Hsien Loong, Senior Wrangler, 1973 Lee Hsien-Loong - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012 cropped.jpg
Lee Hsien Loong, Senior Wrangler, 1973
Kevin Buzzard, Senior Wrangler, 1990 Kevin buzzard in 2007.jpg
Kevin Buzzard, Senior Wrangler, 1990
Ben Joseph Green, Senior Wrangler, 1998 Ben Green.jpg
Ben Joseph Green, Senior Wrangler, 1998
YearSenior Wrangler(s) [18] [note 1] CollegeProxime AccessitCollege
1748 John Bates Gonville and Caius John Cranwell Sidney Sussex
1749 John Greene Corpus Christi Francis Coventry Magdalene
1750William Hazeland St John's John Gooch Gonville and Caius
1751John Hewthwaite Christ's William Cardale Pembroke
1752Henry Best Magdalene John Cay Clare
1753 William Disney Trinity William Preston Trinity
1754William Abbot St John's Samuel Hallifax Jesus
1755Thomas Castley Jesus John Hatsell Queens'
1756John Webster Corpus Christi William Bearcroft Peterhouse
1757 Edward Waring Magdalene John Jebb Peterhouse
1758 Robert Thorp Peterhouse George Wollaston Sidney Sussex
1759Joshua Massey St John's Richard Watson Trinity
1760George Cross Clare Anthony Hamilton Corpus Christi
1761 John Wilson Peterhouse Timothy Lowten St John's
1762Richard Haighton Christ's Jeremiah Pemberton Pembroke
1763 William Paley Christ's John Frere Gonville and Caius
1764Luke Heslop Corpus Christi John Fairfax Francklin Emmanuel
1765 John White Gonville and Caius John Clement Ives Gonville and Caius
1766William Arnald St John's John Law Christ's
1767 Joseph Turner Pembroke George Dutens Queens'
1768 Thomas Kipling St John's George Fielding Trinity
1769 Thomas Parkinson Christ's William Burslem St John's
1770Lewis Hughes St John's William Smith St John's
1771Thomas Starkie St John's Roger Kedington Gonville and Caius
1772 George Pretyman Tomline Pembroke Mark Anthony Stephenson Clare
1773John Jelland Brundish Gonville and Caius George Whitmore St John's
1774 Isaac Milner Queens' George Mounsey Peterhouse
1775 Samuel Vince Gonville and Caius Henry William Coulthurst St John's
1776 John Oldershaw Emmanuel Gilbert Wakefield Jesus
1777 David Owen Trinity Thomas Cautley Trinity
1778 William Farish Magdalene William Taylor Emmanuel
1779 Thomas Jones Trinity Herbert Marsh [note 2] St John's
1780St John Priest Pembroke William Frend Christ's
1781 Henry Ainslie Pembroke Montague Farrer Ainslie & George Henry Law Trinity & Queens'
1782 James Wood St John's John Hailstone Trinity
1783 Francis John Hyde Wollaston Sidney Sussex Richard Buck Magdalene
1784 Robert Acklom Ingram Queens' John Holden Sidney Sussex
1785 William Lax Trinity John Dudley Clare
1786 John Bell Trinity Edward Otter Jesus
1787 Joseph Littledale St John's Algernon Frampton St John's
1788 John Brinkley Gonville and Caius Edmund Outram St John's
1789William Millers St John's Joseph Bewsher Trinity
1790 Bewick Bridge Peterhouse Fletcher Raincock Pembroke
1791Daniel Mitford Peacock Trinity William Gooch Gonville and Caius
1792John Palmer St John's George Frederick Tavel Trinity
1793Thomas Harrison Queens' Thomas Strickland Trinity
1794 George Butler Sidney Sussex John Singleton Copley Trinity
1795 Robert Woodhouse Gonville and Caius William Atthill Gonville and Caius
1796 John Kempthorne St John's William Dealtry Trinity
1797 John Hudson Trinity John Lowthian Trinity
1798Thomas Sowerby Trinity Robert Martin Trinity
1799 William Fuller Boteler St John's John Brown Trinity
1800 James Inman St John's George D'Oyly Corpus Christi
1801 Henry Martyn St John's William Woodall Pembroke
1802 Thomas Penny White Queens' John Grisdale Christ's
1803 Thomas Starkie St John's Charles James Hoare St John's
1804 John Kaye Christ's William Albin Garratt [19] Trinity
1805 Thomas Turton St Catharine's Samuel Hunter Christie Trinity
1806 Frederick Pollock Trinity Henry Walter St John's
1807Henry Gipps St John's John Carr Trinity
1808 Henry Bickersteth Gonville and Caius Miles Bland St John's
1809 Edward Hall Alderson Gonville and Caius John Standly Gonville and Caius
1810 William Henry Maule Trinity Thomas Shaw Brandreth Trinity
1811 Thomas Edward Dicey Trinity William FrenchCaius
1812 Cornelius Neale St John's Joseph William Jordan Trinity
1813 John Herschel St John's George Peacock Trinity
1814Richard Gwatkin St John's Henry Wilkinson St John's
1815Charles George Frederick Leicester Trinity Frederick Calvert Jesus
1816 Edward Jacob Gonville and Caius William Whewell Trinity
1817John Thomas Austen St John's Temple Chevallier Pembroke
1818 John George Shaw-Lefevre Trinity John Hind St John's
1819 Joshua King Queens' George Miles Cooper St John's
1820 Henry Coddington Trinity Watkin Maddy St John's
1821Solomon Atkinson Trinity Henry Melvill St John's
1822 Hamnett Holditch Gonville and Caius Mitford Peacock Corpus Christi
1823 George Biddell Airy Trinity Charles Jeffreys St John's
1824 [20] John Cowling St John's James Bowstead Corpus Christi
1825 James Challis Trinity William Williamson Clare
1826William Law Trinity John Hymers [21] St John's
1827 Henry Percy Gordon Peterhouse Thomas Turner Trinity
1828 Charles Perry Trinity John Baily St John's
1829 Henry Philpott St Catharine's William Cavendish Trinity
1830Charles Thomas Whitley St John's James William Lucas Heaviside Sidney Sussex
1831 Samuel Earnshaw St John's Thomas Gaskin St John's
1832 Douglas Denon Heath Trinity Samuel Laing St John's
1833Alexander Ellice Gonville and Caius Joseph Bowstead Pembroke
1834 Philip Kelland Queens' Thomas Rawson Birks Trinity
1835 Henry Cotterill St John's Henry Goulburn [note 3] Trinity
1836 Archibald Smith Trinity John William Colenso St John's
1837William Nathaniel Griffin St John's James Joseph Sylvester St John's
1838Thomas John Main St John's James George Mould Corpus Christi
1839 Benjamin Morgan Cowie St John's Percival Frost St John's
1840 Robert Leslie Ellis Trinity Harvey GoodwinCaius
1841 George Gabriel Stokes Pembroke Henry Cadman Jones Trinity
1842 Arthur Cayley Trinity Charles Turner Simpson St John's
1843 John Couch Adams St John's Francis Bashforth St John's
1844 George Wirgman Hemming St John's William Bonner Hopkins Gonville and Caius
1845 Stephen Parkinson St John's William Thomson (later known as Lord Kelvin) [note 4] Peterhouse
1846Lewis Hensley Trinity John Alfred Airey (or Lumb) Pembroke
1847William Parkinson Wilson St John's Robert Walker Trinity
1848 Isaac Todhunter St John's Charles Mackenzie Gonville and Caius
1849 Morris Birkbeck Pell St John's Henry Carlyon Phear Gonville and Caius
1850 William Henry Besant Corpus Christi Henry William Watson Trinity
1851 Norman Macleod Ferrers Gonville and Caius William Charles Evans St John's
1852 Peter Guthrie Tait Peterhouse William John Steele Peterhouse
1853 Thomas Bond Sprague St John's Robert Braithwaite Batty Emmanuel
1854 Edward Routh [note 5] Peterhouse James Clerk Maxwell Peterhouse & Trinity
1855James Savage St John's Leonard Courtney St John's
1856 Augustus Vaughton Hadley St John's John Rigby Trinity
1857Gerard Brown Finch Queens' Thomas Savage Pembroke
1858George Middleton Slesser Queens' Charles Abercrombie Smith Peterhouse
1859 James Wilson St John's Frederick Brown & Anthony William Wilson Steel Trinity & Gonville and Caius
1860 James Stirling Trinity Walter Baily St John's
1861William Steadman Aldis Trinity John Bond Magdalene
1862 Thomas Barker Trinity John George Laing St John's
1863 Robert Romer Trinity Hall Edward Tucker Leeke Trinity
1864Henry John Purkiss Trinity William Peverill Turnbull Trinity
1865 John Strutt Trinity Alfred Marshall St John's
1866Robert Morton Peterhouse Thomas Steadman Aldis Trinity
1867 Charles Niven Trinity William Kingdon Clifford Trinity
1868 John Fletcher Moulton St John's George Darwin Trinity
1869 Numa Edward Hartog [note 6] Trinity John Eliot St John's
1870 Richard Pendlebury St John's Alfred George Greenhill St John's
1871 John Hopkinson Trinity James Whitbread Lee Glaisher Trinity
1872 Robert Rumsey Webb St John's Horace Lamb Trinity
1873 Thomas Oliver Harding Trinity Edward John Nanson Trinity
1874George Constantine Calliphronas Gonville and Caius W. W. Rouse Ball Trinity
1875John William Lord Trinity William Burnside & George Chrystal Pembroke & Peterhouse
1876Joseph Timmis Ward St John's William Loudon Mollison Clare
1877 Donald MacAlister St John's Frederic Brian De Malbisse Gibbons Gonville and Caius
1878 E. W. Hobson Christ's John Edward Aloysius Steggall Trinity
1879 Andrew James Campbell Allen Peterhouse George Francis Walker Queens'
1880 Joseph Larmor St John's J. J. Thomson [note 4] Trinity
1881 Andrew Forsyth [note 7] Trinity Robert Samuel Heath Trinity
1882 [24] Robert Alfred Herman Trinity John Shapland Yeo St John's
1882 [note 8] William Welsh Jesus Herbert Hall Turner Trinity
1883 George Ballard Mathews St John's Edward Gurner Gallop Trinity
1884 William Fleetwood Sheppard Trinity Walter Percy Workman Trinity
1885Arthur Berry King's Augustus Edward Hough Love St John's
1886 Alfred Cardew Dixon Trinity William Charles Fletcher St John's
1887 H. F. Baker , Sir Alfred William Flux, John Henry Michell & John Cyril Iles St John's, St John's, Trinity & Trinity James Bennet Peace Emmanuel
1888 William McFadden Orr St John's William Edwin Brunyate Trinity
1889 Gilbert Walker Trinity Frank Watson Dyson & Percy Cory Gaul [25] Trinity & Trinity
1890 Geoffrey Thomas Bennett;
Philippa Fawcett placed "Above the Senior Wrangler" [note 9]
St John's
(Fawcett: Newnham)
Hugh William Segar Trinity
1891James Goodwillie Corpus Christi David Beveridge Mair & Robert Hume Davison Mayall Christ's & Sidney Sussex
1892 Philip Herbert Cowell Trinity Francis Robert Sharpe Christ's
1893George Thomas Manley Christ's Gilbert Harrison John Hurst & Charles Percy Sanger King's & Trinity
1894Walter Sibbald Adie & William Fellows Sedgwick Trinity & Trinity William Edward Philip Clare
1895 Thomas John I'Anson Bromwich St John's John Hilton Grace & E. T. Whittaker Peterhouse & Trinity
1896William Garden Fraser Queens' Ernest William Barnes , George Edward St Lawrence Carson & Algernon Charles Legge Wilkinson Trinity, Trinity & Trinity
1897William Henry Austin Trinity Francis John Welsh Whipple Trinity
1898Ronald William Henry Turnbull Hudson St John's John Forbes Cameron & James Hopwood Jeans Gonville and Caius & Trinity
1899George Birtwhistle & R. P. Paranjpye [note 10] Pembroke & St John's Samuel Bruce McLaren Trinity
1900Joseph Edmund Wright Trinity Arthur Cyril Webb Aldis Trinity Hall
1901Alexander Brown Gonville and Caius Herbert Knapman Emmanuel
1902 Ebenezer Cunningham St John's Frank Slator St John's
1903 Harry Bateman & Philip Edward Marrack Trinity & Trinity James Sidney Barnes, Ernest Gold, George Frederic Sowden Hills and Sidney Hill Phillips Trinity, St John's, Trinity and St John's
1904 Arthur Stanley Eddington [note 11] Trinity G. R. Blanco-White Trinity
1905 John Edensor Littlewood & James Mercer Trinity & Trinity H. Smith Trinity Hall
1906Arunachala Tyaga Rajan & Clarence John Threlkeld Sewell Trinity & Trinity W. J. Harrison Clare
1907 G. N. Watson Trinity Herbert Westren Turnbull Trinity
1908 Selig Brodetsky & A. W. Ibbotson Trinity & Pembroke H. Minson Christ's
1909 Percy John Daniell Trinity E. H. Neville Trinity

Senior Wranglers since 1910

YearSenior WranglerCollege
1914Brian Charles Molony [27] Trinity
1923 Frank Ramsey [28] Trinity
1928 Donald Coxeter [29] Trinity
1930 Jacob Bronowski [30] Jesus
1939 James Wilkinson [31] Trinity
1940 Hermann Bondi [32] Trinity
1948 Michael Edward Ash [33] Trinity
1952 John Polkinghorne [ citation needed ] Trinity
1953 Crispin Nash-Williams [34] Trinity Hall
1959 Jayant Narlikar [35] (non-collegiate)
1966 Nigel Kalton [ citation needed ] Trinity
1970 Derek Wanless [36] King's
1972 Gordon Woo [37] Christ's
1973 Lee Hsien Loong [38] [39] Trinity
1977 Glyn Moody [40] [41] Trinity
1982 Christopher Budd [42] St John's
1983John Lister Trinity
1985Nick Mee [43] Trinity
1990 Kevin Buzzard [44] Trinity
1992Ruth Hendry [45] [46] Queens'
1993 Ian Dowker Trinity
1994 Wee Teck Gan Churchill
1995Balazs Szendroi Trinity
1996David W. Essex Trinity
1997 Alexander G. Barnard Trinity
1998 Ben Joseph Green [47] Trinity
1999Paul Russell Peterhouse
2000 Toby Gee [48] [49] Trinity
2001 Mohan Ganesalingam [50] Trinity
2002Jeremy Young Trinity
2003 Thomas Barnet-Lamb [51] Trinity
2004David Loeffler [52] Trinity
2005Tim Austin Trinity
2006Antonio Lei Trinity
2007 Paul Jefferys [53] Trinity
2008Le Hung Viet Bao [54] Trinity
2009Thomas Beck [55] Trinity Hall
2010Zihan Hans Liu [56] Trinity
2011Sean Eberhard [57] Gonville and Caius
2012Sean Moss [58] Trinity
2013 Arran Fernandez [6] [59] Fitzwilliam
2014Yang Li [60] Downing
2015Timothy Large [61] Trinity
2016Leo Lai Churchill
2017Jonathan Zheng Trinity
2018 Barnabas Janzer Trinity
2019 Warren Li Trinity
2020Exam cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreakN/A

Senior Wranglers since 1910 also include:

See also


  1. In years where there was a tie, individuals tied have been shown as Senior Wrangler, with the next placed candidate(s) as Proxime Accessit; strictly speaking, if n individuals are tied as Senior Wrangler, any runner up is (n+1)-st Wrangler .
  2. Thomas Jones, the Senior Wrangler that year, acted as his tutor.
  3. Also senior classic.
  4. 1 2 According to legend, Kelvin was so confident he had come top that he asked his servant to run to the Senate House and check who the Second Wrangler was. The servant returned and told him, "You, sir"! Kelvin was reportedly beaten largely on the basis of Parkinson's superior exam technique. The result was reversed in the Smith Prize. This story has also been attributed to J.J. Thomson in 1880, and others. [22]
  5. Routh found more fame subsequently as a coach of other Senior Wranglers. Indeed for twenty-two consecutive years from 1862, one of his pupils was Senior Wrangler, and he coached twenty-seven in all. His first pupil in 1856 was Third Wrangler, and in 1858 both the Senior and Second Wrangler were coached by him. [23]
  6. First Jewish Senior Wrangler. A special grace was passed to allow him to be graduated using a special form of the wording in order to not offend his religious beliefs.
  7. Forsyth was one of the men who were principally responsible for the reform of the Tripos system that led to the end of the Tripos ranking.
  8. Regulations were changed to split the class list into Parts I & II, and Part III. The examinations for the former were held in June and retained the ordered class list (in contrast to Part III), so two sets of results exist for this year.
  9. Women were allowed to take the Tripos from 1881, when Charlotte Scott achieved the eighth highest mark (but was not officially ranked as eighth wrangler); but their results were published on a separate list and they were not officially ranked among the wranglers, so Fawcett was not officially Senior Wrangler despite receiving the highest mark on the tripos. Women students were finally admitted as full members of the university in 1948.
  10. First Indian Senior Wrangler.
  11. Eddington was the first person to be Senior Wrangler after only two years of study. [26]

Related Research Articles


At the University of Cambridge, a Tripos is any of the undergraduate examinations that qualify an undergraduate for a bachelor's degree or the courses taken by an undergraduate to prepare. For example, an undergraduate studying mathematics is said to be reading for the Mathematical Tripos, whilst a student of English literature is reading for the English Tripos.

G. H. Hardy British mathematician

Godfrey Harold Hardy was an English mathematician, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis. In biology, he is known for the Hardy–Weinberg principle, a basic principle of population genetics.

John Edensor Littlewood was an English mathematician. He worked on topics relating to analysis, number theory, and differential equations, and had a lengthy collaboration with G. H. Hardy.

Jacob Bronowski Polish-born British mathematician

Jacob Bronowski was a British mathematician and historian. He is best known for developing a humanistic approach to science, and as the presenter and writer of the thirteen part 1973 BBC television documentary series, and accompanying book, The Ascent of Man, which led to his regard as "one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals".

William Hopkins English mathematician and geologist

William Hopkins FRS was an English mathematician and geologist. He is famous as a private tutor of aspiring undergraduate Cambridge mathematicians, earning him the sobriquet the "senior-wrangler maker."

Wrangler (University of Cambridge) Student laurel

At the University of Cambridge in England, a "Wrangler" is a student who gains first-class honours in the third year of the University's undergraduate degree in mathematics. The highest-scoring student is the Senior Wrangler, the second highest is the Second Wrangler, and so on. At the other end of the scale, the person who achieves the lowest exam marks while still earning a third-class honours degree is known as the wooden spoon.

Philippa Fawcett English mathematician

Philippa Garrett Fawcett was an English mathematician and educationalist. She was the first woman to obtain the top score in the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos exams. She taught at Newnham College, Cambridge, and at the normal school in Johannesburg, South Africa, then was an administrator for the London County Council.

Horace Lamb English mathematician

Sir Horace Lamb was a British applied mathematician and author of several influential texts on classical physics, among them Hydrodynamics (1895) and Dynamical Theory of Sound (1910). Both of these books remain in print. The word vorticity was coined by Lamb in 1916.

A wooden spoon is an award that is given to an individual or team who/which has come last in a competition. Examples range from the academic to sporting and more frivolous events. The term is of British origin and has spread to other English-speaking countries.

Edward Routh 19th-century English mathematician and teacher

Edward John Routh, was an English mathematician, noted as the outstanding coach of students preparing for the Mathematical Tripos examination of the University of Cambridge in its heyday in the middle of the nineteenth century. He also did much to systematise the mathematical theory of mechanics and created several ideas critical to the development of modern control systems theory.

Mathematical Tripos exam

The Mathematical Tripos is the mathematics course that is taught in the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. It is the oldest Tripos examined at the University.

Rouths theorem Area ratio of one triangle and the triangle formed by the intersections of three cevians

In geometry, Routh's theorem determines the ratio of areas between a given triangle and a triangle formed by the pairwise intersections of three cevians. The theorem states that if in triangle points , , and lie on segments , , and , then writing , , and , the signed area of the triangle formed by the cevians , , and is the area of triangle times

E. W. Middlemast British educator in India

Edgar William Middlemast (1864–1915) was a British mathematician and educator in India in the early twentieth century. He served as the Deputy Director of the Department of Public Instruction, Madras Presidency, as Professor of Mathematics at the Presidency College, Madras from 1910 and as Principal of the college in 1915.

Thomas Gaskin (1810–1887) was an English clergyman and academic, now known for contributions to mathematics.

William Henry Besant was a British mathematician, brother of novelist Walter Besant.

Robert Rumsey Webb, known as R. R. Webb, was a successful coach for the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos. Webb coached 100 students to place in the top ten wranglers from 1865 to 1909, a record second only to Edward Routh.

Robert Alfred Herman (1861–1927) was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who coached many students to a high wrangler rank in the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos. Herman was senior wrangler in 1882.

Sheila May Edmonds was a British mathematician, a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and Vice-Principal of Newnham College from 1960 to 1981.

Anupam Saikia is an Indian mathematician and at present professor in the Department of Mathematics at IIT Guwahati, India. He is known for his work related to arithmetic number theory, in particular applications to Iwasawa Theory and p-adic measures. He has also published articles in mathematical cryptography.

William Loudon Mollison was a Scottish mathematician and academic. From 1915 to 1929, he was Master of Clare College, Cambridge.


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