Allen Downey

Professor of Computer Science Emeritus


A headshot of Allen Downey


Milas Hall 359




  • B.S., Civil Engineering, MIT
  • M.S., Civil Engineering, MIT
  • Ph.D., Computer Science, University of California/Berkeley


  • 2012 Undergraduate Computational Engineering and Sciences (UCES) Award


  • Data science,
  • Bayesian statistics,
  • Physical modeling,
  • Python,

Prof Allen Downey teaches classes in software engineering and data science as well as physical modeling and simulation.

He is the author of several textbooks in use at Olin and many other schools; they include Think Python, Think Stats, and Modeling and Simulation in Python. These books are available under free licenses that allow readers to copy and modify the text as well as contribute material. In 2012 Prof Downey received the Undergraduate Computational Engineering and Sciences (UCES) Award for developing an innovative undergraduate class on Complexity Science and an accompanying book, Think Complexity. In 2009-10 he was a Visiting Scientist at Google, Inc., working in their network infrastructure group on projects related to the Make the Web Faster initiative. Before coming to Olin, Prof Downey taught at Colby College and Wellesley College, and held research positions at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and Boston University. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California/Berkeley in 1997, with a dissertation on operating system support for large-scale parallel computation. His undergraduate and master's degrees are from the Civil Engineering department at MIT. He is the author of Probably Overthinking It, a blog about Data Science and Statistics.

Select Publications

Downey, Think Python, 2nd edition, O'Reilly Media 2015

Downey, Think Complexity, O'Reilly Media 2012

Downey, Think Stats, 2nd edition, O'Reilly Media 2014

Downey, Think Bayes, O'Reilly Media 2013