Thomas Pfaff

Professor and Chair, Mathematics
School: School of Humanities and Sciences
Phone: 607-274-7066
Office: Williams Hall 208, Ithaca, NY 14850
Specialty: Data Science, Sustainability, Applied Math, Probability & Statistics

file-outline Pfaff Vita - pfaff-vita-updated.pdf (392.49 KB)

Brief History & Bio: I graduated from Ithaca College in 1990, with a B.S. in Exercise Science. After continuing my undergraduate education at SUNY Cortland, I completed a second B.S. in 1992, this time in Mathematics. In the fall of 1992, I moved to Syracuse to pursue graduate work in Mathematics and completed an M.S. in mathematics, in 1994, at Syracuse University. Continuing at SU, I finished a Ph.D. in Mathematics in probability theory (stochastic processes) and a second M.S. in Applied Statistics, in May of 1999. In August of 1999 we, moved to the Twin Ports (Duluth, MN and Superior, WI), and I started a position as an assistant professor of mathematics at University of Wisconsin Superior. After two fun years in the Twin Ports, we moved "back east" to Ithaca, NY where I am now a professor of mathematics. Over the next couple of years, we had our third and fourth sons.  

As an undergraduate at Ithaca College, I was a three-year varsity oarsman and raced in eights and occasionally fours, during the semesters. In the summers, I have competed in singles, doubles, and quads. Since then, I have done various activities to stay in shape. While in graduate school I picked up short track speed skating and then followed that up with inline skating. I also played a lot of squash and did some canoeing. During my two years in Wisconsin, I ran a marathon (Grandma's Marathon in Duluth MN in June 2001, (3:34:58, 799 out of 4271 men, 932 out of 6699 overall), and skated an inline marathon (26 miles, Northshore Inline Marathon in Duluth MN in Sept 1999 1:29:16 -top 10 in my age group). I have also competed in a canoe marathon (Whitney Point Canoe Marathon, June 1998) and was on a top five team in the Winter Great Race in Auburn in Feb 1998.  In January 2019 I placed in the top 10 of Concept 2 Virtual Team challenge logging in 1,079,911 meters on the erg for the month.  In the summer of 2020 I, along with one of our four sons, completed the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks. These days you will find me biking (often to work) and rowing in the summer, and in the winter running and erging. Other hobbies of mine include making, gardening, raising chickens for eggs, and recently drumming.

My primary scholarly work is in data science and also incorporating sustainability ideas into mathematics courses. I maintain an active website and blog  As an applied mathematician, I use a variety of computing software, but currently my two favorite programs are R and ArcGIS.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

        -- Lazarus Long, main character in Robert A. Heinlein's book Time Enough for Love

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