Brian Alspach

Photo of Brian Alspach

Professor of Mathematics


I grew up in Seattle and attended the University of Washington (Go Huskies!) for my undergraduate degree in 1961. I taught one year at a junior high school in the Seattle area and then went back to graduate school in 1962 at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I obtained both my M.A. and Ph.D. from UCSB (1964 and 1966, respectively). I spent 33 years at Simon Fraser University taking early retirement in 1998. I have been at the University of Regina as an Adjunct Professor since 1999.

I believe the future growth of mathematics as a discipline will benefit greatly from people in business and industry asking for more mathematics students.

Mathematicians learn a highly specialized language and a certain way of formulating problems. People outside of the discipline usually do not understand our viewpoint.

One of my main responsibilities as a university professor was to produce research. Of course, I use my mathematical training directly to work towards that goal.

Perhaps of more interest is my experience of applying mathematics. I have done consulting in three directions: scheduling problems, the gambling industry, and intruder capture in networks. I believe a knowledge of mathematics is essential in all three areas.

One of the most challenging aspects of consulting is trying to communicate effectively with people who have only a sparse understanding of mathematics.

I maintained a strong interest in research throughout my career, but something else that motivated much of my activity my entire career is a strong belief that the application of mathematics is very important and underappreciated.

I was one of three people who created the cooperative education program at Simon Fraser University, one of three people who created an innovative interdisciplinary program at SFU comprising business administration, computer science, and mathematics. And, two of us put together an industrial mathematics degree program at SFU. All of these were aimed at raising the profile of mathematics.

Keywords: academic, gambling, scheduling