Way back during the late Bronze age — actually it was the 1950s — all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. “If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?” I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home.
I cannot remember what answer I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and — after a five-year stint in journalism — back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics.
Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel — more about that in good time — and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
Data should not be confused with information; but it’s helpful.
My name is Alan Donald. I was born in Manchester, England, in May 1941. I attended Stretford Grammar School. In 1957 I emigrated with my family to Canada and attended two years of high school in Vancouver. In retrospect, that was a waste of time.
After several years of dithering about at the University of British Columbia, I dropped out and worked as a reporter on several B.C. newspapers until I landed a job doing public relations at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver. I was so impressed with my own PR that I quit my job after three years and enrolled as a mathematics major at Simon Fraser. I sailed through the program, got a Masters of Science from Queen’s University and a Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario.
I was on faculty at the University of Prince Edward Island before returning to Vancouver to teach at UBC, the place I had abandoned in the 1960s.
Here’s my vita.