Ivars Peterson: Bio

Ivars Peterson is a freelance writer and editor. He was Director of Publications at the Mathematical Association of America in Washington, D.C., from 2007 to 2014. For more than 25 years previously, he was a writer at Science News. He also served as editor of Science News for Kids and Science News Online and wrote the weekly online column Ivars Peterson's MathTrek.

Ivars Peterson received his education from the University of Toronto, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree (majoring in physics and chemistry) and a Bachelor of Education degree. He taught high school science and mathematics for eight years. In 1980, he left teaching to obtain a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He served as an intern at Science News in Washington, D. C., then joined the weekly magazine’s staff.

Peterson’s first book, The Mathematical Tourist: Snapshots of Modern Mathematics (W.H. Freeman, 1988; rev. ed., 1998), was widely and favorably reviewed. He followed up that success with Islands of Truth: A Mathematical Mystery Cruise (W.H. Freeman, 1990), Newton’s Clock: Chaos in the Solar System (W.H. Freeman, 1993), Fatal Defect: Chasing Killer Computer Bugs (Times Books, 1995), The Jungles of Randomness: A Mathematical Safari (Wiley, 1998), Fragments of Infinity: A Kaleidoscope of Math and Art (Wiley, 2001), and Mathematical Treks: From Surreal Numbers to Magic Circles (Mathematical Association of America, 2002).

He has collaborated with his wife, Nancy Henderson, on two books introducing selected topics in contemporary mathematics to children of middle-school age: Math Trek: Adventures in the MathZone (Wiley, 2000) and Math Trek 2: A Mathematical Space Odyssey (Wiley, 2001). For more than 10 years, he wrote the "Math Page" column for the children's magazine Muse.

In 1991, Ivars Peterson received the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award recognizing him for his "exceptional ability and sustained effort in communicating mathematics to a general audience."

During the spring semester of 2008, Ivars Peterson served as the Basler Chair of Excellence for the Integration of the Arts, Rhetoric, and Science at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where he taught a course on "Communicating Mathematics."

He lives in Washington, D.C., with his family.


Strongly Connected Components (Samuel Hansen) podcast (March 11, 2010)

Putting Math into Words (Melissa Hartman, Imagine, March/April 1998)

Forum on Education: Profile of a Science Writer (August 1995)