Math Department Welcomes New Faculty Member Dr. Phillip Williams


Dr. Phillip Williams CE

King’s is the fourth college that Dr. Phillip Williams has taught at during his relatively short career as a professor. And after a month of teaching here, the 29-year-old hopes to stay.

Williams teaches two classes this fall: Statistics and Quantitative Reasoning. He lives in Williamsburg, bakes homemade bread, “enjoys trying to explain what it is that mathematicians actually do,” and if he were a student he could see himself in the house of Lewis.

“Math is the abstract study of patterns,” Williams said. “Just as a scientist looks for patterns in nature, a mathematician looks for more abstract patterns and ideas that arise in thinking. Those patterns are called conjectures, and as a mathematician you try to prove your conjectures to form theorem. So lots of people think math is just numbers, but numbers are the grammar of math.”

Williams moved to New York City after graduating from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He earned his PhD from CUNY on “properties of good and bad reduction of dynamical systems over number fields and function fields.” He has lived in Brooklyn for seven years.

Williams did not grow up wanting to be a professor, but rather molded into one.

“In college I decided I wanted to be an academic, so I just followed that life trajectory,” Williams said. “I chose to do my dissertation on mathematics because it was more practical than philosophy, and I basically realized I was on the path to becoming a professor.”

Williams heard about the opportunity to work at King’s from his friend, writing professor Bearden Coleman.

“I knew about King’s before I applied,” Williams said. “The way the college approaches ideas and engages is like nowhere else.”

He attributes his teaching style to a favorite professor at Lehigh.

“I hope to instill in my students the appreciation of beauty in mathematics, why it is worthwhile in an intellectual way to wrap your mind around. And really, how mathematics reflects the mind of our creator.”

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