Robert Leese

MA Oxf, PhD Durh
Fellow by Special Election in Mathematics
Director of the Smith Institute


I teach the more applied components of Mathematics Prelims, covering Papers III, IV and V in the First Public Examination. For students working towards the Second Public Examination, I give tutorials in Complex Analysis, Probability, Statistics, Quantum Theory, Calculus of Variations and Special Relativity.

About me

Before coming to St Catherine's in 1993, I was a Research Fellow at St John's College, Cambridge, working in mathematical physics.  My main research interests were investigating how topological structures can provide good models for elementary particles in high-energy physics.  On moving to Oxford, I joined the newly created Smith Institute for Industrial Mathematics and System Engineering.  My work took a sharp turn towards more practical applications of mathematics, building on the strong heritage of the College in industrial mathematics. I found new lines of research in the challenges of radio spectrum management, which required drawing on techniques in graph theory and combinatorial optimisation.


I became Director of the Smith Institute in 1999 and since then have overseen its ongoing expansion. My own work in telecommunications continues and these days I am particularly active in the design and implementation of combinatorial auctions for radio spectrum. Along with colleagues at the Smith Institute, I was part of Ofcom's team that delivered the successful UK auction for 4G spectrum in 2013.

Graduate teaching

I have very limited availability at present for supervising graduate students, but am happy to offer advice to students considering pursuing research in my areas of interest.