Hala Nelson is an associate professor of Mathematics at James Madison University and the author of the book Essential Math for AI (O’Reilly Media, 2023). Nelson specializes in mathematical modeling and consults for emergency response, public safety, infrastructure and transportation sectors. She likes to translate complex ideas into simple and practical terms.

Nelson grew up in Lebanon during its brutal civil war. She lost her hair at a very young age in a missile explosion. This event, and many that followed, shaped her interests in human behavior, the nature of intelligence and artificial intelligence (AI). Her dad taught her math, at home and in French, until she graduated high school. Her favorite quote from her dad about math is, “It is the one clean science”.

Nelson earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at Beirut Arab University, a master's degree in mathematics at American University of Beirut and a doctorate in mathematics at New York University.

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