Assistant Professor

Claudia Cohen Hall 363
ON LEAVE 2020-21

Curriculum Vitæ


PhD Harvard University
M.A. University of Toronto
B.A. Hons. University of Kings College, Dalhousie University

I joined the faculty of the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall of 2017. Prior to that I was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and I completed my PhD in HIstory of Science at Harvard University in 2015. I am a historian of computing and mathematics, primarily in the twentieth century United States. My first book project explores early attempts to auotmate proof and new formulations of mathematical reasoning and knowledge that were developed in tandem with them. This book offers a historical answer to the question  - 'what is thinking if a computer can do it?' By way of answer, I recover and reconstruct how different communities theorized human cognitive faculties with automation in mind.

I am also working on the history of NYSIIS, the New York State Identification and Intelligence System, which was one of the first efforts to introduce computing to American law enforcement and to mobilize automated recognition systems for faces, license plates, and finger prints for policing. I have also published on the history of Microsoft Windows, in particular one of its most infamous failures as a window into the experience of modern computing, and I am also working on a book length study of how computer science became an academic discipline. 


Research Interests

Mathematics and computing in the postwar United States
Artificial intelligence and automated reasoning
Mathematical proof
Computer memory and digital representation
Human-machine interaction
Software Studies
Science Studies

Selected Work

"DLL Hell: Software Dependencies, Failure, and the Maintenance of Microsoft WIndows" with Daniel Volmar, in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Vol. 40, No. 4 (2018): 26 - 49.

“Of Models and Machines” in Isis 106.3 (September 2015): 623 - 634.

“Machines Who Write” in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 35.2 (April-June 2013): 85 - 87. 

“AterMath: The Work of Proof in the Age of Human-Machine Collaboration” in Isis 102.3 (September 2011): 494 - 505.


I am currently an advisor for the Lauder Center Global Knowledge Laboratory at Penn

I am a member of the Council for the History of Science Society

I am also a member of the Organizational Committee for the Special Interest Group in Computing, Information, and Society (SIGCIS) Annual Meetings

Teaching Fields

History of science, history of mathematics, history of computing, history of information

Courses Taught

STSC 160: The Information Age

STSC 270: Digital Democracy

STSC 278: Prove It - Mathematics and Certainty

STSC 260: Cyberculture

HSSC 505: Methods in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine


Faculty Bookshelf