Professor of Computer Science
At North Park since: 1982
Alan Iliff has taught mathematics and computer science at North Park for more than three decades. He likes teaching at a small university for the ability to improve and take part in curriculum decisions and for the direct contact with students, particularly in North Park’s interdisciplinary Dialogue courses where he reads, discusses, and supervises student writing about important books and ideas.
Professor Iliff’s interest in student learning extends to his research interests, which include mathematical logic, especially proof theory or the theory of how truth is proved in mathematics; undergraduate mathematics curriculum and pedagogy, particularly learning how to prove mathematical theorems; computer science curriculum and pedagogy, including theory of programming languages; and computer approaches to proving truth in mathematics.
In a department that is dedicated to providing a quality education and preparing students for graduate study or careers in business and industry, or secondary and elementary education, Professor Iliff also believes mathematics fits in well with North Park’s multicultural, urban, and Christian distinctives.
“Mathematics is transcultural; it is absolutely the same everywhere it is known,” he says. “The only way to relate it to multiple cultures is to apply it to issues in different societies, either geographically or historically.”
Contemporary issues of different cultures are relevant in higher-level courses like History of Mathematics, Biostatistics, and Environmental Statistics, and classes like MATH 1030 and STAT 1490 involve students in social issues in Chicago and include field trips to the city. He also believes the absolute truth of mathematics inclines people to believe in God and in God’s presence and influence in people’s lives.
“Mathematics is the study of eternal ideas in the mind of God, some of which are ideas we have known for millennia and some of which are yet to be discovered by us,” he says.
Professor Iliff is involved in Math Club and Kappa Mu Epsilon, an undergraduate mathematics honor society. He is a member of American Association of University Professors, Association for Symbolic Logic, Charles S. Peirce Society, International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, and TeX Users Group.
- DA, Mathematics, University of Illinois at Chicago
- MS, Mathematics, University of Illinois at Chicago
- BA, Natural Sciences, Shimer College
“The Role of the Matrix Representation in Peirce’s Development of the Quantifiers.” In Studies in the Logic of Charles Sanders Peirce, edited by Nathan Houser et al. Indiana University Press, 1997.