Dr. Francis D. Parker '39, Mathematics Prize

The Dr. Francis D. Parker, '39, Mathematics Prize is awarded each year to the graduating student with the best senior work in the mathematics department. The prize was established in 1993 with a gift from Professor Parker.

Francis Dunbar Parker (1918 – 2006) was a member of the Middlebury Class of  1939. He earned a master's degree from Boston University in 1942, and a Ph. D. from the Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western  Reserve University) in 1952. He taught mathematics at Case, Clarkson University, University of Alaska, State University of  New York at Buffalo, and, for many years, at  St. Lawrence University from which he retired as Rutherford Professor of Mathematics. Dr. Parker also held a Fulbright Exchange Professor at Plymouth Polytechnic in England and was a visiting scholar at the California State University Los Angeles. He served the Mathematical Association of America in several leadership positions.

2019

Jack Parker

The axiom of choice is an important and controversial component of set theory that gets to the heart of several major philosophical questions in mathematics.  Jack's thesis opens with an informed survey of these philosophical issues, and then demonstrates the logical equivalence of the axiom of choice with Zorn's lemma and the well-ordering theorem.  This is tough sledding, and Jack finds the perfect voice--informal without being imprecise--to explicate this complicated proof in a clear and compelling way.  The last half of the thesis explores three major results that follow from adopting the axiom of choice.  Two are classical in nature--the construction of a non-measurable set and the Banach-Tarski paradox--and the third is a more recent result about predicting the values of an arbitrary function based on what might seem like the irrelevant information of its values elsewhere.  In every case, the enigmatic nature of mathematics is on display, a point that is magnified in the engaging exposition that characterizes Jack's writing.  The author's passion and excitement for his subject shines through without compromising the thesis's clarity or completeness.  This paper will find many future readers looking for a rigorous and reader-friendly introduction to this fascinating component of the foundations of mathematics.

Past recipients:

2018

Sirawit "Blink" Woramongkhon

2017

Noel Jean Eyman Antonisse

2016

Jordan Daniel DuBeau

2015

William Reed Palmer

2014

Lindong Zhou

2013
Alec Cooper
Aden Forrow

2012
Ying "Daisy" Zhuo

2011
Nicholas Tkach

2010
Hallie Gammon
Shengen Zhai

2009
Phuong Chi Le

2008
Jeffrey Wehrwein

2007
Anna Blasiak

2006
Gregory C. Petrics
Siddarth Rajaram

2005
Emily J. Berg

2004
Jeffrey W. Koppernolle

2003
Victor A. Dan
Jill E. Parsons

2002
Jesse E. Johnson

2001
Sorin Talamba

2000
Darius Braziunas
Wei Su

1999
Milda Darguzaite

1998
Charles B. Donnellan
Irina Marinov

1997
Dirk R. Hobman

1996
David B. Wood II
Vikas Jhunjhunwala

1995
Mark H. Montague

1994
Angie Zhong

Department of Mathematics

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