Tough but popular: Cinlar enlivens probability theory

One of the most challenging courses on campus also happens to be one of the most popular: Erhan Çinlar's ORF 309, "Probability and Stochastic Systems."

Erhan Çinlar

Çinlar's course is a high-- level mathematics course and a requirement for operations research and financial engineering majors. But it attracts students from a wide range of disciplines. In recent years, students from the other five engineering departments at Princeton have taken his class, and a fourth of his students are from outside engineering. His class has included students majoring in mathematics, physics, molecular biology, psychology, sociology, German and classics.

One of the world's leading experts in probability theory, Çinlar won the engineering school's Distinguished Teacher Award in 2007 and has received multiple Excellence in Teaching awards from the student Engineering Councils.

As word of his superb teaching has spread, the course has seen a large jump in enrollment. In the 2006-2007 academic year, 103 students took his class; in 2007-2008, that number was 144.

Classics major Lauren Hannah '06 took Çinlar's class and wrote her senior thesis on "Modeling Ancient Epidemics: Athens in 430 to 426 BCE and Constantinople in 542 CE." In Çinlar's course, Hannah found a new career trajectory: She is now a graduate student in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering.