Presented by Dusty Wilson. What is mathematics and is it discovered or invented? The Humanist, Platonist, and Foundationalist each provide answers. But are the options within the philosophy of mathematics so limited? This talk will provide a historical/philosophical overview, introduce an inclusive framework, and perhaps connect it to our critical work as community college educators.

One of the categories of posts on this site is labeled “Christian Mathematicians.” Those posts are largely focused on important historical figures and compiled by contributor Steve Bishop. The last entry in that series was an interview that Steve did with current statistician Andrew Hartley. Ever since then I have been mulling the idea of adding a new series of contemporary “Christian Mathematicians” as a way of illuminating the contributions to mathematics being made by people of faith today. Time will tell if I am able to sit down and compose a full series, but if I do you could consider this the first post.

Talithia Williams is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and, well, I’ll let her faculty page speak for itself:

Dr. Talithia Williams is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. In her present capacity as a junior faculty member, she exemplifies the role of teacher and scholar through outstanding research, with a passion for integrating and motivating the educational process with real world statistical applications. Her educational background includes a Bachelors degree in Mathematics, Masters’ degrees in both Mathematics and Statistics, and a Doctorate in Statistics. Her professional experiences include research appointments at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the National Security Agency (NSA), and NASA. Dr. Williams develops statistical models which emphasize the spatial and temporal structure of data with environmental applications. She has been recognized for the development of a cataract model used to predict the cataract surgical rate for developing countries in Africa.

In addition to her academic accomplishments, Dr. Williams is also a woman of faith, living out a lifestyle practice infused with bold splashes of servitude that embody the eternal ideals of God. She and her husband, Donald, actively teach and share foundational principles regarding the joys of Christian marriage.

Dr. Williams is a great example of how people of faith are impacting the discipline of mathematics today. Here is an MAA video of her explaining the statistical techniques that can be used to classify customers of a company using the messages on their gift cards.