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J. Scott Provan 


Department of Statistics and Operations Research

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Office: 337 Hanes Hall, UNC Campus 
Telephone: (919) 962-3836 
FAX: (919) 962-0391 
Mailing Address: CB #3260, UNC, Chapel Hill 
NC 27599-3260

Research Areas

Network Design and Reliability; Linear & Combinatorial Optimization, Computational Biology



A polynomial-time algorithm to find shortest paths with recurse (2003). Networks 41, 115-125.

A topological characterization of protein structure (2007), with Bala Krishnamurthy and Alex Tropsha. Book chapter in Data Mining in BioMedicine, edited by Panos M. Paradalos, Vladimir Boginski, and Alkis Vazacapoulos, Springer.

Enumeration in convex geometries and associated polytopal subdivisions of

spheres (2008), with Louis J. Billera and Samuel K. Hsiao. Discrete and

Computational Geometry 39, 123-137.

Sudoku: Strategy Versus Structure (2009). The Mathematical Monthly

116, 702-707.

A fast algorithm for computing geodesic distances in tree space (2011), with Megan Owen. ACM/IEEE Transactions on Computational Biology

and Bioinformatics 8 , 2-13


Fall Semester 2011 Courses 

STOR072: Unlocking the Human Genome
STOR705: OR Practice


Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University in 1977. Assistant Professor in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1977 through 1982, spending 1980-82 as an NRC Postdoctoral Associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. At the University of North Carolina since 1982; visited at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada in 1988-89. Held the Paul Ziff Term Professorship at the University of North Carolina for the period 1994-97, and was chair of the department from 1995-2000.

Areas of research include: network and combinatorial reliability, Steiner tree and other network design problems, polyhedral combinatorics, combinatorial listing and enumeration algorithms, and other network and combinatorial optimization problems. Recent work includes computational biology topics such as tools for charactering protein structure and models for extending classical statistics to biological tree-like structures such as brain and lung pathways and phylogenetic trees.  I also developed and maintain the IDEAS database -- an instructional database of algorithms in operations research and related mathematical areas specifically designed for learning the use of software. 

Vitae (pdf)