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Professor Edward Burger

Robert Foster Cherry Professor for Great Teaching

Edward B. Burger

Edward B. Burger is the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Mathematics at Williams College. In February 2011, he was named Vice Provost of Strategic Educational Initiatives at Baylor University. He is an author, an educator, an educational and business consultant, and the winner of numerous recognitions and awards.

Professor Burger graduated from Connecticut College in 1985, where he earned B.A. Summa Cum Laude with Distinction in Mathematics. In 1990, he received his Ph.D. in mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas. His research interests include algebraic number theory, Diophantine analysis, p-adic analysis, geometry of numbers, and the theory of continued fractions. He teaches Abstract Algebra, "The Art of Creating Mathematics", and the Geometry of Numbers.

Professor Burger is in high demand as a speaker, with a long track record of entertaining crowds at the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conferences. He has delivered more than 500 lectures worldwide.

What's it all about?

Beyond all the prestigious awards, publications, appointments, lies the rare gift of performing. "When we teach mathematics, we are not sensitive to the audience. Teachers are performers in front of an audience. Some teachers don't realize they have to reach their audience." Professor Burger teaches a short course in comedy writing during the winter study program at Williams College and he has taken the stage at stand-up comedy clubs and has written jokes for Jay Leno. Professor Burger is a communicator for the age of media: he has appeared on more than 40 radio and TV programs including ABC News Now on WABC-TV in New York and National Public Radio.

Compelling presentations are just the start.

Creativity and the power of failure are two themes woven throughout his teaching. "Mathematicians are both artists and explorers: artists, because they use original thinking and creativity to make new discoveries; explorers, because, unlike artists, what we create is either true or false given the axioms mathematics has as its pillars." He emphasizes the importance of taking risks without the fear of failure as a path to gaining insight. "Mathematics is basically an approach to solving difficult problems. The techniques and strategies that we can learn in mathematics are techniques and strategies we can use to solve any difficult problem."

Prolific and thought provoking.

Besides Thinkwell's College Algebra, Second Edition, and six other Thinkwell multimedia math courses, Professor Burger has written12 additional books ranging in academic topics to fascinating, everyday inquiries of the world around us. His latest book is The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, (with Michael Starbird) published by Princeton University Press, 2012.