Alan Weiss

My nose

Welcome to my site. You can find out about my professional life, family, life in Boston, and hobbies. My contact info is at the bottom of the page.


I am a mathematician who worked for Bell Labs. I started there full-time in 1981; I had worked there summers 1977 and 1978. I retired at the end of March 2007, shortly after the Lucent/Alcatel merger.

Now I work at MathWorks, makers of MATLAB. I work as a technical writer, mainly for optimization products. I started in June 2007. The work is very different than at Bell Labs, but I like it. MathWorks is a great place to work: friendly staff, and a wonderful atmosphere set by the president and co-founder of the company, Jack Little.

This is my CV.

I worked for Debasis Mitra during my entire tenure at Bell Labs, including the summers of 1977 and 1978 as a graduate student summer intern. Debasis is one of the most impressive and thoughtful people I have known. One of the hardest things about leaving Bell Labs was knowing I would no longer be working with him.

My best-known work is the book Large Deviations for Performance Analysis, coauthored with Adam Shwartz of the Technion. This book was recently reissued as a Routledge Revival. But what is even better, the publisher has allowed us to make the book FREE TO DOWNLOAD as a PDF.

I spent the fall semester of 1986 at the Systems Research Center (now the ISR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. Armand Makowski invited me, and that is where I gave lectures on large deviations, notes of which eventually became the book. I also taught courses at Columbia University and Drew University.

I studied math at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences from 1976 to 1981, earning M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics. My thesis advisor, S.R.S Varadhan, is not only one of the world's greatest mathematicians, but is a very sweet fellow. Varadhan won the Abel Prize in 2007; this prize is nearly as prestigious and valuable as a Nobel Prize, but (as all mathematicians know) there is no Nobel prize in mathematics.

I did my undergraduate work at Case Institute of Technology, part of Case Western Reserve University, from 1973 to 1976, earning bachelor's degrees in both math and physics. My mathematics advisor was the late A.J. Lohwater, a distinguished complex analyst who gave unstintingly of his time to undergraduates. I studied probability with the late well-known queueing theorist Lajos Takacs.



I have been a bicycle commuter for nearly my entire life. These days I am a big advocate of recumbent bicycles. I belong to MARS, the Metro Area Recumbent Society , even though I no longer live in the NY metro area. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent group here in the Boston area. I ride an Easy Racers Gold Rush, a long, fast recumbent bicycle. And I bought myself a 60th birthday present: an Easy Racers TI-Rush, which is a super-fancy Gold Rush made of titanium. (Unfortunately, Easy Racers went out of business shortly after I bought the TI-Rush.) I use a Bike Friday SatRDay on trains or when I want something more compact than my Gold Rush. I used to have a Leitra, but I sold it in 2006. You can read about how I came to own a Leitra.

My wife Judy and I have taken a few vacation trips on our recumbent tandem. You can read about one week-long trip here, and another trip here. And my son David and I took a biking trip from Bangor, ME to Brookline, written up here.


I enjoy Jewish choral singing. I sing with Koleinu, a group meeting in the Ohabei Shalom building in Brookline, MA. I used to sing with Kol Dodi, a community choir based in northern New Jersey, and also with Shirah, which is a similar choir based in even more northerly New Jersey. I was the webmaster for Kol Dodi, and made many MIDIs for the group. I have a small Koleinu music site set up, as a resource for the members. I sing Tenor, a bit too loudly, but at least on the beat, and rarely flat.


I have an extensive collection of science fiction books, and still enjoy reading science fiction. I enjoy both fiction and nonfiction books, including mysteries, biographies, and humor. I also read many publications, including Science News, Skeptical Inquirer, The New York Times, Adventure Cyclist Magazine, The Nation, and the online science magazine Quanta, among others.

Former hobbies

I used to have a darkroom, and spent a lot of time taking and printing pictures. I used to have a radial arm saw, and made furniture, including our dining room table and bunk beds for my kids. I used to peform magic, and volunteered at a local hospital entertaining in the pediatric unit weekly. I used to program strategy games for Macintosh computers, and made one decent game, Quarto, that unfortunately runs only on OS9 and earlier, or OSX in Classic mode, but will not run on Intel-based Macs. I used to play pranks, especially with my graduate school buddy John Sylvester, but I'm much too mature for that now.

Boston life

We have lived in Brookline since May 2007. We like it very much. We moved here at the advice of Judy's sister Jessica Goldhirsch, who lives in Arlington, and my good friend Larry Rudolph, who lives in Brookline. They were right, this is a great town.

One of the attractions of Brookline is that it is fairly urban, with good public transportation. We realized one of our lifetime goals, and got rid of our cars when we moved here. It's a pretty long bike ride to work for me, but I find it enjoyable most of the time.

We are members of KI and Minyan Shaleym. I have been impressed with both organizations, their leadership and their members. I am one of several mathematicians at Minyan Shaleym, which currently has fewer than 50 members. There are several rabbis who are members of KI and the Minyan, so Judy has colleagues, too.

Some of the places I like in Brookline:


My wife is Rabbi Judy Weiss, Ph.D. We have two children, Benjamin (born in 1983), and David (born in 1985). We are all Zionists, have doctorates, like to ride recumbent bicycles, enjoy taking adventures, and are good at math. How much of this is nature, and how much nurture? Hard to say.

The Doctors Weiss
The Weiss family celebrating after David earned his Ph.D.

Benjamin married Alison, his long-time girlfriend, toward the end of July, 2010. Ben took a tenure-track job in the math department of the University of Maine, Orono beginning in the Fall of 2013. Ben left academia after five years, and is now doing actuarial work.

Alison gave birth to Joel Henry Weiss in January 2014. I am very happy to have a grandson. And she gave birth to Shoshanah Marina Weiss in April 2016. I am delighted to have a granddaughter.

David took a tenure-track job in the Tel Aviv University Economics department beginning in the Fall of 2013. David was granted tenure during the 2019-2020 academic year.

David is not alone in spending time in Israel. We took family trips to Israel in 1989, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2005, and 2012, in addition to numerous solo and duo trips by members of our family. Both Ben and David each spent a semester in Israel during high school. David also spent a semester in Israel during his Junior year of college. Ben spent a summer in Israel as a volunteer EMT with Magen David Adom in Haifa during college. Both Ben and David led Birthright trips to Israel in 2008--in fact, David led two! David led other Birthright trips, too, including one for Asperger teens during the winter of 2011-12. Ben took a postdoc at the Technion in Haifa during the academic year 2011-12.

The  Weisses in the Galapagos
Alan, David, Benjamin, and Alison in the Galapagos, July 2013

My mother, Annabelle, lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, as she has since 1960 or 1961. She is active, fun-loving, and a big Yiddishist. My older sister, Nicki, lives in Toronto. My younger sister, Susan Reis, lives in Shaker Heights. Nicki has two sons, Lee and Hal. Susan has two sons, Lee and Marc, and two daughters, Carolyn and Heidi. Nicki is married to Mike Fox. Susan is married to Barry Reis. I believe that all of these people are Zionists, but unfortunately they have not yet seen the light of recumbency, so ride standard bicycles (except the enlightened Lee Reis rides Bachetta bikes).

Contact information

apdoo at apdoo dot org

(973) 986-2569 (cell)

Alan Weiss
1272 Beacon Street
Apartment 8
Brookline, MA 02446-3754