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Professor Alan Parks
Briggs 409
campus phone: 920-832-6738
email (the best way to reach me)

Spring schedule

Courses for Spring 2017

Foundations of Analysis (math 310)

Applied Calculus II (math 130)

math courses Spring 2017
draft for 2017-18

computer science courses Spring 2017
draft for 2017-18


Links on this page.

Teaching philosophy


Computer programming

Community Service


Extenal links.

Lawrence Mathematics Department

American Mathematical Society
Research, professional mathematics.

LaTex information
Downloads galore.

Mathematical Assocation
of America

Teaching, literacy, outreach.

Leonhard Euler

Lawrence University
Patron Saint.

Euler's works online

Teaching philosophy.

Here is a FAQ for students interested in our curriculum.

A FAQ for calculus I and II (math 140 and 150).


You have learned a mathematical subject if you can reconstruct its basic definitions and facts on your own, and if you can apply those facts in a variety of contexts. Mathematics is about getting a great many consequences from a few central facts, not about memorizing lists of facts or equations.

Applications and theory are not alternatives; indeed, they are strongly related to each other. For instance, the Intermediate Value Theorem says that if f(x) is continuous on the interval [r,t], and if f(r) < 0 < f(t), then there is a number  s  between  r  and  t  such that f(s) = 0. An applied approach to this fact might produce approximations to the number s; an abstract approach might ask for a rigorous proof that the Intermediate Value Theorem is true. There is such a proof that produces approximations in the course of its argument. The details (and a more precise statement of the theorem) are here.

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This summer I am working on connections between music theory and mathematics, along the lines of Tymoczko's book A Geometry of Music.

I work in applied mathematics, including optimization, coding theory, and mathematical dynamics. These areas form a well-traveled corridor between mathematics and physics, chemistry, economics, biology, and other subjects.

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Computer Programming.

I am an action-oriented programmer interested in the theory of computation, coding theory, and the analysis of algorithms. "Action oriented" programming stresses the selection and organization of the algorithms used in a program, as opposed to "object oriented" programming which manages a program by the abstract description of objects. I am rarely interested in code that is abstractly portable, and I do not hide methods in my data structures. On the other hand, I am a firm believer in careful documentation. I currently use R, python, and Java; in the past I have written applications in C++, Objective-C, Scheme, html, FORTRAN, pascal, matlab, ALGOL, and a couple of assembly languages.

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Service in the Lawrence Community.

I serve as one of the faculty advisors to Lawrence Christian Fellowship. This will be my last term as faculty marshal.

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Jean Jeff Dan&Annika grill
David&Holly Tyler Josh

My wife Jean and I have three children and four grandchildren. The upper left-hand picture was taken in the Grand Canyon, where we vacationed in December, 2016.

I am involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an organization that serves undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty through its various ministries. The InterVarsity chapter at Lawrence is called LCF; it is one of the oldest campus organizations. I am also involved in the Appleton Gospel Church which currently meets at the YMCA on Sundays at 10.

I am a serious amateur musician, writing and playing mostly church worship music but also blues (especially gospel blues: Willie Johnson, Gary Davis, Son House, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and others), rural folk music (Stanley Carter, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, and others), and some jazz (Wes Montgomery, but also early folks like Bix). And throw in a preoccupation with early sacred music, especially Bach, Vivaldi, and Palestrina.

Newman The picture to the right portrays John Henry Newman (1801-1890), whose works are linked here. Newman's book The Idea of the University presents an alternative view of the liberal arts based on the metaphysics of orthodox Christianity.


Proud user links.


The Oxford Comma.

The Heritage H-535. Expressive rhythm, lead lines, blues, jazz.

Fender guitars and amps. Clean living.

Gretsch Anniversary 6118. The green leaf.

Dr Z amps. The Maz 18.
Breedlove acoustics. Ideal for live sound.

Fulltone effects. Non-clean living.

Maxon compressor and analog delay.


Really, really good music stores: Elderly Instruments in Lansing. Vintage and modern gear at Willie's American Guitars in St. Paul, and the very friendly high-end Humbucker Music in Georgia.

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Disclaimer: I take responsibility for the content of this page. It attempts to represent my work at Lawrence University and my attitude toward that work. Although I do not claim to represent official policies of Lawrence University, I believe that my views are entirely consistent with those policies. Any questions or comments should be directed to myself.