Ed Sheeran: The Mathematician of Music


The Music Universe

Ed Sheeran’s upcoming album cover of “Subtract” features a drawing of a corroding heart with a subtraction symbol in the bottom right.

Journey Mou, Photojournalist

Ed Sheeran is a singer-songwriter well known for his memorable music, prominent red hair, and album titles. Specifically, the way his albums are named is based on math symbols. This has been a way Ed Sheeran has been able to stand out to the public in addition to the catchy songs he makes. Using this method, Kelsey Ikemoto (9) adds, “It shows how massive his big brain is.”

It shows how massive his big brain is.

— Kelsey Ikemoto (9)

Starting the series of mathematical symbols, + (Plus) was released in 2014. This was his debut album that introduced the world to Sheeran’s talents. Following Plus, “Multiply” was next. Sheeran said this was because the Multiply album made everything on the Plus album bigger (Entertainment Weekly). Considered his biggest hit out of the math operations, Divide came out in 2017 and quickly became Number 1 in the United States and places all over Europe. This wave of fame led to Ed Sheeran becoming a household name, leading the highest-grossing tour of all time (MTV). The 2021 Equal album had a mix of ballads and pop songs. On Mirror, Ed Sheeran shared, “I saw the symbol ‘equals’ as it symbolizes life, not just new life, it symbolizes life and whether that’s the end of life or the start of life.”


Sheeran does this naming process so he has a distinct face for the radio. In an interview with Uproxx, Sheeran states, “I’d love to get to a point that there’s a billboard of just red with an equals sign, or green with a multiply, or blue with a divide, or orange with a plus, and people go, ‘Oh, Ed’s got an album coming out.’’ Coincidentally, the colors he stated are the actual colors of his album covers. 


The concluding album of the math operations project is “Subtract.” This album was announced on March 1, 2023, and is set to be released on May 5. Sheeran has been working on this album for a decade and it is said to contain songs that are not catered toward the general public, but songs about his place in his adult life (Rolling Stone). This fourteen-song album is the product of an attempt to create the perfect acoustic album which goes into his personal grief and hope.


As the end of the mathematics-themed titles comes to a close, a new era of Ed Sheeran will come. The sixth-biggest Spotify artist in the world has much more to come in the future. Currently, on the Mathematics tour, Ed Sheeran will continue to spread his musical talents and mathematical albums worldwide.