Curriculum Vitae


  • B.S. with highest honors from Carnegie-Mellon University, Applied Mathematics, 1983.
  • M.S.E., Johns Hopkins University, Mathematical Sciences, 1985.
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, Mathematical Sciences, 1989. 
    Dissertation: “Turnpike Structures for Optimal Maneuvers,” Advisor: Alan J. Goldman.

Honors and Awards

  • Rufus P. Isaacs Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University, 1984.
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship 1985-88.
  • George E. Nicholson Prize, for the paper “Graphs, Maneuvers and Turnpikes,” awarded by the Operations Research Society of America, 1988.
  • Mayfield High School (Ohio) Alumni Hall of Fame, 1996.
  • First Place, American Backgammon Tour, 1997. Number 9 on All-time list.
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, Southern California Section of MAA, 1999.
  • Fellow of the Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications, 2000.
  • National Teaching Award, (Haimo Prize) , awarded by MAA, 2000.
  • CHOICE Award,Outstanding Academic Title, for Proofs that Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof  from the American Library Association, 2004.
  • Designated “America’s Best Math Whiz” by Reader’s Digest Magazine, Best of America issue, May 2005.
  • AMS Award for Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department (awarded to HMC Mathematics Department). We were the first recipients of this award, 2006.
  • Beckenbach Book Prize, for Proofs that Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof from the Mathematical Association of America, 2006.
  • MAA Polya Lecturer , 2006-2008.
  • TED speaker 2005, 2009, and 2013 (Among the top 20 most viewed TED talks. Over 20 million views.)
  • Selected by Princeton Review as one of The Best 300 Professors, 2012.
  • Inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, 2013.
  • Endowed Chair: Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics, 2015.
  • New York Times Bestseller in Education (top 10): The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why2015 and 2016.
  • CHOICE Award, Outstanding Academic Title, for The Fascinating World of Graph Theory from the American Library Association, 2016.
  • 2017 Communications Award, by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, (awarded to people who, on a sustained basis, share the beauty and value of mathematics to a broad audience), 2017.
  • 2017 Henry T. Mudd Prize, for outstanding service contributions to Harvey Mudd College.

Work Experience

  • Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College, 2015 to present.
  • Professor of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College, 2000 to present.
  • Chair, Department of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College, 2002 to 2004.
  • Associate Chair, Department of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College, 2001 to 2002.
  • Extended Graduate Faculty, Claremont Graduate University, 1999 to present.
  • Associate Professor of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College, 1995 to 2000.
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College, 1989 to 1995.
  • Mathematician, Institute for Defense Analyses, Princeton, NJ, Summer 1989.
  • Discreet Mathematician, National Security Agency, Washington, D.C., Summer 1987.
  • Senior Staff Member, Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics program, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Summer 1986.
  • Mathematician, National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD, Summer 1985.
  • Research Assistant, IBM, T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, Summer 1982.
  • Research Assistant, Department of Psychology, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, 1980-83.

Sabbatical appointments

  • Visiting Professor, Department of Mathematics, Caltech, 1995-1996.
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Mathematics, Brandeis University, Fall 2004.
  • Visiting Professor, School of Mathematics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Spring 2005.
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Physics, Oxford University, 2012-2013.


Includes 85 research papers, 13 expository papers, 11 book reviews and letters, DVD courses, and 8 books.

A list of my papers, preprints, and books.

Research Talks

Includes 314 talks (3 TED talks) and counting!

A list of my research talks.


  1. Teach Your Child Math
    (with Michael B. Shermer)
    McGraw Hill, New York, 177 pages, 1991. (Out of Print.)
  2. Mathemagics: How to Look like a Genius Without Really Trying
    (with Michael B. Shermer)
    McGraw Hill (Book-of-the-Month-Club Selection), New York, 218 pages, 1993, 1998. (Out of Print. Updated as Secrets of Mental Math.)
  3. Proofs That Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof
    (with Jennifer J. Quinn)
    Mathematical Association of America, Dolciani Series, Washington DC, 208 pages, 2003. 
    (Order here!) 
  4. Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks
    (with Michael B. Shermer; translated into more than 10 languages!) 
    Random House, New York, 279 pages, 2006. (This is an updated version of Mathemagics.)
  5. Biscuits of Number Theory
    (co-edited with Ezra B. Brown)
    Mathematical Association of America, Dolciani Series, Washington DC, 311 pages, 2009. 
    (Order here!) 
  6. The Art of Mental Calculation: Addition & Subtraction 
    (with Natalya St. Clair)
    self-published with, 60 pages, 2014. 
    (Order here!)
  7. The Fascinating World of Graph Theory
    (with Gary Chartrand and Ping Zhang)
    Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 322 pages, 2015. 
    (Order here!) 
  8. The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why
    Basic Books, New York, NY, 336 pages, 2015. (A New York Times Bestseller!)

DVD Courses (from The Great Courses):

  1. The Joy of Mathematics. 
    The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA (24 thirty minute lectures on DVD), 2007. 
    (Order here!)
  2. Discrete Mathematics. 
    The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA (24 thirty minute lectures on DVD), 2009. 
    (Order here!)
  3. The Secrets of Mental Math 
    The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA (12 thirty minute lectures on DVD), 2011. 
    (Order here!)
  4. The Mathematics of Games and Puzzles: From Cards to Sudoku 
    The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA (12 forty-five minute lectures on DVD), 2013. 
    (Order here!)
  5. Math and Magic
    The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA (12 thirty minute lectures on DVD), 2018. 
    (Order here!)


I organized the Eighth Annual HMC Mathematics Conference in 2006. The topic was Enumerative Combinatorics and our speakers were George Andrews (Pennyslvania State), Igor Pak (MIT), Carla Savage (North Carolina State), and Doron Zeilberger (Rutgers).

Mathemagics Presentations

A list of my recent performances.

Senior Theses

  1. Jeremy Billones, Optimal Strategies in Pai-Gow Poker, 1991.
  2. Eric Huggins, Optimal Blackjack Strategies with Lucky Bucks, 1991.
  3. Roderick Lee, Chance and Determinism: What Happens When You Add a Coin to a Nim-Like Game?, 1991.
  4. Greg Levin, A Comparison of Negative Cycle Detection Methods, 1992.
  5. Jeff Vogel, A Brief Introduction to the Theory of Matroids, 1992.
  6. Michael Buksas, Juggling by the Numbers: A Mathematical Model of Juggling, 1993.
  7. Cliff McCarthy, Determinants of the Tournaments, 1994.
  8. Mike Munson, Winning Backgammon, 1994.
  9. Tim Kokesh, Mathematics of Baseball, 1995.
  10. Andrew Ross, Optimal Racing in Backgammon, 1996.
  11. Jessica Sidman, Splitting Numbers, 1997.
  12. Kan Yasuda, Squares of Magic Squares, 1997.
  13. Aaron Archer, Coloring Theorems, 1998.
  14. Andrew Hutchings, Applications of Semi-Definite Programming, 1998.
  15. Matthew Fluet, Searching for Optimal Strategies in Knock ‘m Down, 1999.
  16. David Rudel, Solving x^2 + y^2 = z^n, 1999.
  17. Helen Monroe, N-Person Coalitional Games: The Power of More Than One, 2000.
  18. Kylie Bryant, Genetic Algorithms and the Travelling Salesman Problem, 2001.
  19. Greg Preston, A Combinatorial Approach to Harmonic Numbers, 2001
  20. Jeremy Rouse, Combinatorial Proofs of Congruences, 2003.
  21. Alexander Eustis, The Negs and Regs of Continued Fractions, 2006.
  22. Jonathan Azose, A Tiling Interpretation of q-Binomial Coefficients, 2007.
  23. Daniel Walton, A Tiling Approach to Chebyshev Polynomials, 2007.
  24. Sean Plott, Functions of the Binomial Coefficient, 2008.
  25. Bob Chen, Combinatorial Proofs Using Complex Weights, 2010.
  26. Elizabeth Reiland, Combinatorial Proofs of Fibonomial Identities, 2011.
  27. Curtis Heberle, A Combinatorial Approach to r-Fibonacci Numbers, 2012.
  28. Kym Louie, Flatterland: The Play, 2012.
  29. Eric Stucky, Kastelyn’s Solution of the Dimer Model, 2015.
  30. Robert Bennett, Fibonomial Tilings and other Up-Down Tilings, 2016.
  31. Natchanon Suaysom, Iterative Matrix Factorization Method for Social Media Data Location Prediction, 2017.

Editorial Boards

  • The College Mathematics Journal, 2014 to 2018. 
  • Math Horizons, co-Editor, 2004 to 2008.
  • Mathematics Magazine, 1996 to 2005.
  • The UMAP Journal, The Journal of Undergraduate Mathematics and its Applications, 1990 to present.
  • Involve, A Journal of Mathematics, 2006 to present.
  • Anneli Lax New Mathematical Library, Mathematical Association of America, 2000 to 2003.
  • Spectrum Book Series, Mathematical Association of America, 1995 to 2000 (Editor from 1996 to 2000).

Service to the Profession

  • Secretary, The Fibonacci Association, 2010 to present.
  • Member at Large, AMS Governing Council, 2012 to 2015.
  • past-Chair, MAA Carriage House Committee, Washington, DC.
  • MAA Program Committee for Joint Meetings, 2009.
  • past-Chair, Carriage House Advisory Board Subcommittee for Opening Ceremony, MAA, Washington, DC.
  • Advisory Network for Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Johns Hopkins University.
  • Advisory Panel for Mathematics Department, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.
  • Program Committee, Joint Meetings of AMS/MAA, Washington, DC 2009.
  • Chair, Southern California-Nevada Section of MAA (2009-2010).
  • Vice Chair, Southern California-Nevada Section of MAA (2008 to 2009).
  • Governor, Southern California-Nevada Section of MAA (2004 to 2007).
  • Secretary-Treasurer, Southern California-Nevada Section of MAA (1999 to 2004).
  • MAA Program Chair, Joint Meetings of AMS/MAA, San Diego, CA 2002
  • MAA Program Chair, MAA MathFest, Boulder, CO 2003


  • American Mathematical Society (AMS)
  • Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)
  • The Fibonacci Association (Board of Directors and Secretary)
  • Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications (ICA)
  • Mathematical Association of America (MAA)
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
  • The Magic Castle
  • US Backgammon Federation (Board of Directors, since 2012)

Referee for these journals and book series

  • American Mathematical Monthly
  • Annals of Combinatorics
  • Anneli Lax New Mathematical Library (MAA)
  • Ars Combinatoria
  • Applications of Fibonacci Numbers
  • The College Mathematics Journal
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Discrete Applied Mathematics
  • Electronic Journal of Combinatorics
  • European Journal of Combinatorics
  • The Fibonacci Quarterly
  • INTEGERS: The Electronic Journal of Combinatorial Number Theory
  • Involve: The Journal of Undergraduate Mathematics
  • The International Journal of Combinatorics
  • Journal of Applied Probability
  • Journal of Combinatorial Mathematics and Combinatorial Computing
  • Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Series A
  • Journal of Integer Sequences
  • The Journal of Magic Research
  • Management Science
  • Math Horizons
  • Mathematical Intelligencer
  • Mathematics Magazine
  • Naval Research Logistics
  • Notices of the American Mathematical Society
  • Oxford University Press
  • Pi Mu Epsilon Journal of Mathematics
  • Princeton University Press
  • Rocky Mountain Journal of Mathematics
  • SIAM Review
  • Spectrum Book Series (MAA)
  • The UMAP Journal
  • Utilitas Mathematica

Courses Taught

  • Calculus
  • Linear Algebra (with Discrete Dynamical Systems)
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Introduction to Probability and Statistics
  • Combinatorics
  • Intermediate Probability
  • Mathematical Statistics
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Abstract Algebra
  • Number Theory
  • Stochastic Operations Research
  • Deterministic Operations Research
  • Mathematics of Games and Gambling
  • Special Topics in Combinatorics
  • Math Horizons
  • Math Forum
  • Mathematics Clinic
  • Senior Thesis


I enjoy attending theatre, playing competitive backgammon, writing parodies, racing calculators and performing magic.