About Me

My name is Jason Siefken, and I am a professional mathematician who focuses on dynamical systems and mathematics education. I earned my PhD from the University of Victoria in 2015, spent some time as a postdoc at Northwestern University, and am now an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream at the University of Toronto.

When I'm not coming up with new ways to push the boundaries of understanding, I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, computer programming, and fiddling with typography. I'm also a huge fan of cooking and love figuring out how to cook with ingredients I've never heard of before!

Dynamical Systems

My mathematical research focuses on dynamical systems and ergodic theory. At its most general, a dynamical system is a set and a transformation that moves around points in the set—think the air molecules on earth (as as set) and the wind as it blows them around (as a transformation).

The idea of a dynamical system is very general. It's too general to actually be useful, so mathematicians don't study dynamical systems in general. They study dynamical systems with specific properties. For example, a dynamical system is called mixing if any two points eventually end up close to eachother. They may get far apart after that, but at some point they must get close.

Once properties such as mixing (or a very special property called ergodicity) get added to a dynamical system, suddenly you can start proving things about them. That's what I do.

Mathematics Education

My ultimate goal is to make the world a better place. Right now I'm working on that by teaching people (and sometimes computers) how to use mathematics to aid their thinking. This is hard! Though mathematics can be fun, it doesn't come natural to most of us—unlike your tendency to pick up your mother tongue, you don't inevitably stumble into the conclusion that when approaching a problem the first thing you should do is write down everything you know. No, this is one of the many mathematical habits of mind that only comes through training.

If you want to see more about my philosophy of teaching, you can check out my Teaching Statement. Briefly summarized, I believe you learn by doing, being challenged, and forcing your brain to rewire itself. I am a big proponent of Active Learning, Inquiry Based Learning, and the Flipped Classroom (the list could go on and on). I am a 2016 MAA Project NeXT Fellow (go green dots!) and a TIMES Linear Algebra Fellow.

Papers

Resources

I've seen some incredible things throughout my travels, and I've collected a few.

Teaching Resources

Software

I always strive to make my life (as well as those around me) easier by harnessing the power of the analytic engine to do the day's menial tasks. You can find a list of most of my projects on my Github page. Projects of particular relevance I've listed below.

Courses

Linear Algebra Fall 2017, MAT223

Calculus I Fall 2017, MAT135

Previous Courses

Contact

You may contact me by mailing