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J. Scott Olsson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mathematics and the Natural Sciences
B.S. (Physics), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; M.S. (Mathematics), University of Maryland; Ph.D. (Applied Mathematics) University of Maryland
307-332-2930, ext. 1121
One starry evening, while walking the beaches of Hawaii and conversing bleary-eyed about cosmological theories I could only barely grasp, a younger me decided I should study Physics. That led me to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for my bachelors degree, where I fell in love (in no particular order) with: my wife, Latin, mathematics, and God. I went to graduate school for mathematics, receiving my Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park.
To study “Applied” Mathematics, you have to apply it to something. I started in numerical astrophysics, but my interest in Latin quickly pulled me into computational linguistics and natural language processing—the study of the mathematical and computational means for solving various problems in human language. For example, how might we automatically transcribe human speech? And, once we had, could we then automatically translate it into another language? These sorts of questions bring together beautiful and diverse topics in statistics, mathematics, and linguistics and are the focus of my published research.
Latin has played a crucial role in my intellectual formation because, aside from pulling me towards the Church as a historical reality, it entered into my education as a study purely for its own sake. My first Latin course had nothing to do with graduating. On the face of it, it made no sense, but there we were: three friends, studying our Latin, wine in hand, in love. It was my first experience of intellectual leisure and paved the way for my coming to Wyoming Catholic.
When I’m not teaching and learning, I enjoy woodworking and pretty much anything related to improving my home without paying someone to do the work. We enjoy homeschooling our approximately (x – 2002)/2 children, where x is the current year, and love living in beautiful Wyoming.
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