Peter L.

Cambridge, MA


Math Stats Physics Data-science Code-dev. Distance-learner friendly!

1250+ Hours
Background check passed as of 10/2/15
5.0 average from 406 ratings
Best statistics teacher I've ever had
— Jillian, Newton Center, MA on 11/4/16


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Georgetown University
Physics and History
University of California, San Diego


Georgetown University (Physics and History)

University of California, San Diego (PhD)

About Peter

Perhaps I can help!

I am a math/statistics/physics/data science/software development tutor based in Portland ME and Cambridge MA. If you are in greater Portland or greater Boston, please consider me for help with math from the basics to calculus to beginning and advanced statistics, ODE/PDEs, linear algebra, time series analysis or any other topic of applied math. I can help with high school or college level physics (I have a PhD in physics), general data science (I've made a career developing data mining methods for R&D in analytical chemistry) and programming in C, C++, java, & perl.

Over half of my students are distance learners who seek the bricks-and-mortar of a coffee shop and the skin-and-bones of a tutor to help ground their education in tangible experience. I'm delighted to be smiling/frowning/laughing/worrying human element in their education.

Some background: I am the son of a professor and the brother of a professor. I married a professor's daughter. Indeed, I've been an adjunct professor at University of Southern Maine and a teaching fellow at Harvard, where I was the recitation instructor in quantum mechanics for first-year chemistry department graduate students. Currently, I tutor one 5th grader, one high school junior, several college students, and several post-grads who are taking college courses for professional advancement. Whether I'm covering the intuitive thinking behind quantum spin matrices or the proof of the Divide-by-Three rule, I approach every teaching opportunity as a chance to discover the edge of a student's conceptual limits, plant myself there, illuminate a new zone of cognition, and call him or her into it. The process is hugely creative, just plain fun while I'm doing it (for both of us), and as rewarding as anything I've ever done. Teaching is in my lineage, my blood, and my soul.

Years ago, I asked Tim O'Reilly, the publisher of the O'Reilly books on new technology, what he thought was the best way to communicate technical information. "Easy," he said. "Wait for someone to ask a question. Then answer it." I did a double-take. Did the famous publisher of technical books just tell me that best way to transmit technical information is ORALLY? I asked him to confirm, "Yes, because nothing smooths the way for information transfer like trust, and nothing builds trust like candor, and nothing is more refreshingly candid than a simple answer to a simple question. Given all options, asking questions of a patient, responsive master-of-the-craft is the best way to learn. My books are second best." Hidden in O'Reilly's answer was a deeper point: the question has to come first. I remind myself regularly to hold back a little and wait for the next question. What to do when it comes is easy. What to do when it doesn't come is important.
Perhaps I can help!

I am a math/statistics/physics/data science/software development tutor based in Portland ME and Cambridge MA. If you are in greater Portland or greater Boston, please consider me for help with math from the basics to calculus to beginning and advanced statistics, ODE/PDEs, linear algebra, time series analysis or any
Read more

24 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 40 miles of Cambridge, MA 02138
Background Check: Passed

"Best statistics teacher I've ever had"

- Jillian, Newton Center, MA on 11/4/16

"Patient and Persistent"

- Nareh, Saugus, MA on 2/21/17

"r programming"

- Vasant, Nashua, NH on 1/31/17

"Incredibly knowledgeable, patient, efficient teacher"

- William, Lemoore, CA on 1/25/17


- Saleh, Medford, MA on 1/4/17

"Knowledgeable, patient, and super professional"

- Ruth-Elizabeth, Atlanta, GA on 12/5/16

"Great tutor!"

- John, Saint Petersburg, FL on 11/10/16

"Patient & Versatile"

- Craig, Brighton, MA on 11/7/16

"Excellent knowledge base & style."

- Damien, New York, NY on 10/19/16

"Very organized, professional and Knowledgeable"

- Michelle, Lexington, MA on 9/9/16

"Excellent communication, paired with a very strong subject knowledge."

- Ryan, Boston, MA on 8/24/16

"Extremely Knowledgeable and Very Clear Explanations."

- Donna, Hingham, MA on 7/6/16

"Very knowledgeable and helpful tutor!"

- Sonali, Lexington, MA on 5/9/16

"best tutor around!"

- Gayle, Waltham, MA on 4/13/16

"Great Teacher"

- Latif, Boston, MA on 4/6/16


- Wafa, Boston, MA on 4/5/16

"A great tutor"

- Geoff, Newton Upper Falls, MA on 3/22/16

"Very warm, patient, and clear in explaining."

- Anisa, Cambridge, MA on 2/28/16

"Great first session"

- Karim, Boston, MA on 2/18/16

"Knowledgeable and Patient."

- Michael, Newton Center, MA on 2/12/16

"Great tutor, would highly recommend"

- Zachary, Boston, MA on 2/4/16

"Very knowledgeable and patient"

- Sang, Cambridge, MA on 2/3/16

"Excellent knowledge and presentation"

- W, San Francisco, CA on 1/25/16

"Great tutor"

- Nick, Boston, MA on 1/20/16

"Knowledgeable, patient, and very helpful"

- Erik, Greendale, WI on 1/12/16

"A great tutor who loves to help students learn."

- Lucas, Cambridge, MA on 1/6/16

"Great Tutor, you get an overview what you want to learn with basic details introduced"

- Leanna, Holbrook, MA on 8/25/15

"Knowledgeable and enthusiastic"

- Ryan, Medford, MA on 8/5/15

"An amazing teacher."

- Lucinda, Acton, MA on 8/1/15

"Very knowledgeable and efficient."

- Young, New York, NY on 7/19/15

"Knowledgeable and patient tutor"

- Nicholas, Allston, MA on 6/29/15

"Knowledgeable and really patient on learning the concepts."

- Curtis, Falmouth, ME on 6/17/15

"Knowledgeable and patient tutor"

- Kathi, Wrentham, MA on 6/1/15

"Knowledgeable and patient tutor"

- Ben, Middleton, MA on 6/1/15

"Gifted, insightful, encouraging, and very knowledgeable tutor with a sense of humor"

- Ann, Groton, MA on 5/13/15

"VERY helpful"

- Mara, Chestnut Hill, MA on 5/12/15

"Great tutor!"

- Kiran, Boston, MA on 5/3/15

"Excellent Tutor!"

- Sadie, Portland, ME on 4/24/15

"Professional Expertise and Sensitive to Student Learning Style"

- Richard, Salem, MA on 4/1/15

"Great tutor"

- Candice, Natick, MA on 3/30/15


- Sidharth, Falmouth, ME on 1/16/15
Algebra 2,
Differential Equations,
Discrete Math,
Finite Math,
Geometry, Linear Algebra,
Precalculus, Probability,
SPSS, Statistics,
Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Science, Physics
Computer Programming,
Computer Science,
Java, Linux,

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.

Algebra 2

As of March 2015, I have one student taking Algebra II and a second reviewing Algebra I and II in preparation for the GRE. My approach to tutoring Algebra is similar to the rest of basic problem solving: I focus on reflexes. What's the first thing to do when you see a problem of a certain form? What's the second? My students develop a problem solving rhythm that carries them through assignments and exams.


Since 1997, I have been principally employed developing statistical methods for defining and distinguishing groups of biological test samples based on biochemical analysis. The problem has always been to answer the question "how are these samples different from those?" In my specific sub-field, the answers come in the form of biomarkers. To elucidate a biomarker, I've developed custom implementations of unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis, principle component analysis, ANOVA, ANCOVA, linear discriminant analysis, SIMCA, and other techniques of used widely in biostatistics, chemometrics, and general data science. I use both frequentist and Bayesian methods.


I've never taken a class in C. I've never taught a class in C. But my computational physics PhD thesis written in my late 20s rode on the back of two years of pure C programming. I didn't learn C++ until I was in my late 30s.

I read Kernighan & Ritchie's classic text in the late 80s as a graduate student at UCSD. My first copy was a freshly published 2nd edition. My thesis code, which among other things enumerated the number of self-avoiding walks in a 3x3x3 cubic lattice, was written entirely in C and made aggressive use of code recursion with changing local variables while keeping track of the enumeration using global variables.

I am adept at malloc() and free(), passing by value int x,f(int x); int y=f(x) and passing by reference int x, g(int *x); int z=g(&x), and using function pointers when necessary.


I have been writing C++ programs since 2001. I use the Qt libraries and the Gnu C++ compiler for my own work but am able to adjust to the development environment of students. My software has saved $75m in operational costs for a major corporation over 5 years. As a private consultant, I've been involved in every aspect of software development, from pre-sales support such as needs analysis, functional specification writing and usability and testing requirements, to the post-order development cycle such as technical and test specification writing, algorithmic architecture, to the actual coding to code reuse and library archiving to testing and validation to release management to deployment strategies to user training and post sales support. I could send thousands of lines of GUI control code or a snippet of highly recursive algorithmics, or both, if you would like.


I have a Ph.D. in physics and speak calculus daily in my professional life. As a tutor, I liken calculus to parallel parking, or driving a car with a stick shift, or parallel parking in a car with a stick shift -- on a hill. That is, it can seem impossible at first, but any 15-year-old can learn how to do it, and after a fashion it becomes second nature. My teaching strategy for calculus is to focus on pattern recognition in problem solving. Triage is the essential first step in assessing a problem in either differential or integral calculus and they key to picking a successful solution approach. The second step is to develop good habits and rhythms in problem solving. What to write, and where, during the solution of a problem may seem trivial, but a dedication to simple repetitive gestures keeps the solution on track and minimizes errors. Finally, I emphasize that calculus solutions can nearly always be checked, so time permitting, a 100 on the calculus exam is not an unreasonable expectation for students from any discipline.

Computer Programming

I am a computational scientist by training and practice. Perforce, I am a programmer with 20 years of experience in compiled/byte-compiled languages C, C++, Java, and several interpreted/scripting languages, e.g., Perl, bash, R and Javascript. I've worked in every aspect of programming from requirement collection to functional-and-test specifications to technical specification, to architecture, to coding, testing, end-user and API documentation, release management and support. I use object oriented design principles to maximize code clarity, longevity and reusablility. The best evidence of my training and experience in computer programming is MSRedux, a reusable code base that permits me to develop and release (soup-to-nuts!) custom software in my partcular area of research on a week-long time scale.

Computer Science

My experience in Computer Science is practical. In various professional capacities, I've implemented all of the major functional algorithms: sort, linked lists, binary trees, Huffman encoding & compression, depth- and breadth-first search, recursion, symplex-type optimization, and mathematical algorithms, e.g., numerical integration & differentiation, Monte Carlo optimization & annealing, and FFTs for convolution and correlation. I have also worked on all of the major machine learning algorithms, including linear methods like principal cluster analysis and nonlinear methods like neural networks and unsupervised cluster analysis. I have managed data on the bit and byte levels, converting custom data structures to IEEE. Computer science includes a certain amount of code design, I'll add that I am comfortable teaching all of the major object oriented design patterns. I can teach in C/C++ or Java. I can also teach functional programming viz., R or javascript.

Differential Equations

I have a Ph.D. in physics. To get the degree, I've taken advanced mathematics courses in college and graduate school. In college I've had the basic 4 semester calculus sequence plus a semester of ordinary differential equations and a semester of partial differential equations. Most of electricity and magnetism is merely applied boundary value problems from ODEs. I've also taken mathematical methods courses which went deeply into complex analysis, Greens Functions formulations, Sturm-Liouville theory, hypergeometic functions, and complex analysis. I feel comfortable facing any problem in ODEs or PDEs with little or no preparation. (The same for linear algebra.) For advanced courses in Greens functions, etc., I would need to do a bit of preparation to make most efficacious use of my tutoring contact time.

Discrete Math

As a physicist and computational scientist, my knowledge of applied mathematics incorporates many topics in discrete systems: logical grammar (if p then q); techniques of proofs; recursion relations, difference equations & their solutions; matrices operations; counting, combinatorics & probability; set theory and graph theory. My Ph.D. thesis had an exact, constrained enumeration as its springboard into statistical calculations. In order to simplify the resulting complex statistics, I reduced the problem to a graph for which I developed a kinetic model. I simulated kinetics on the graph and solved the eigenvalue problem associated with a matrix chosen to approximate the graph. To this day, I reduce high dimensional problems to low dimensional ones to provide solutions for real-world problems. I'm competent to teach both theory and practice of discrete mathematics.

Finite Math

Finite math is discrete math for social sciences and business. As a physicist and computational scientist, my knowledge of applied mathematics incorporates many topics in discrete, finite systems: logical grammar (if p then q); recursion relations, difference equations & their solutions; simultaneous equations; counting, combinatorics & probability; set theory and graph theory. My Ph.D. thesis had an exact, constrained enumeration as its springboard into statistical calculations. I'm competent to summarize the theory and enable the practice of finite mathematics.

Linear Algebra

I have a Ph.D in physics, and along the way I've had to learn quantum mechanics forwards and backwards. Quantum mechanics single most powerful tool is linear algebra. I've taken the college upper division course in LA, and have studied LA's theorem-proof aspects (Hermetian operators have strictly real eigenvalues, etc.) in my various math methods courses in undergraduate and graduate physics. I've also helped friends and classmates understand null spaces, orthogonal basis sets, singular value decomposition and other tricks of the LA trade. I'm confident I can handle any question in LA with minimal prep time.


I was an early adopter of Linux. My first kernel in 1992 was 1.0.6, and I lived through the early days when new kernel releases were limited by the availability of ethernet card drivers. As a super-user, I handle all aspects of system administration: user management (permissions), resource logic (device, peripheral) and interface config (GUI/X11 config, TCP-IP, sendmail). I was a RedHat user from 1993 until 2005, when I switched to Ubuntu/Debian-flavored releases. Today, my principal instance is Kubuntu, which is rolled up in VMWare WorkStation for co-operation with Windows. All of my general C++/Perl code development occurs in the Kubuntu environment and is ported to Windows as part of the release process.

Linux has always been a means to an end, so my knowledge of the OS is similar to a pilot's knowledge of an aircraft: I can fly it in many conditions, I can recognize when something is wrong, I can fix user-serviceable aspects of operation, but I'm not an architect, designer or trained mechanic.

At various times, my knowledge of Linux has been augmented/clarified by work with other UNIX-based operating systems Sun's SunOS, IBM's AIX, Silicon Graphics RISC, and Berkeley's BSD.


I was an early adopter of Perl in the late 80s as a graduate student at UCSD. I learned Perl from the first edition of Larry Wall's camel book "Programming Perl." Thirty years later, I continue to write Perl scripts to manage software builds and releases.

As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard in the early 90s, I wrote a lot of the glue-code for our protein folding research group, and all of the glue was in Perl. I've also written a Perl-based java-to-c++ translator. I have used Perl to write an automated C++-code generator for C-style structs, which helps with my binary file parsing work.

I was the official reviewer of a 1999 book on programming with Perl.

Perl has been described as the Swiss Army Chainsaw of the Internet. I can show you how to get the chainsaw going, keep it sharp, and avoid hurting yourself (and your work) as you cover a lot of ground on your coding to-do list with a few lines of Perl.


I have a Ph.D. in physics and work professionally in biophysics and bioanalytical chemistry. (My thesis research involved the construction and characterization of computational lattice models of protein folding kinetics.) We all know more physics than we think we do. Our physical intuitions were developed in playgrounds, riding in cars, skating, riding a bike, watching water flow. As a tutor, I try to connect this already well-developed intuition with mathematical expression. It starts hard, but it gets easy quickly for most people when they pick up the rhythm of the solve. In the last six months, I have tutored a dozen students at the high school AP and college levels, both with and without calculus.


I have always managed to keep probability as simple as possible for my own work in statistical physics. I focus on the pathways rather than the rules and have scores of hours of experience tutoring probability so that it doesn't lose touch with its foundation: basic counting and fractions. Discrete binomial, multinomial and Poisson distributions; continuous normal, exponential, T, F or Chi-squared distributions; conditional, marginal, and joint distributions; Bayes theorem and inference.


I use R/RStudio as my daily methods development environment. I exploit R's statistical and mathematical libraries for solving linear systems, performing convex optimization, evaluating frequentist hypotheses, inferring parameters through Bayesian statistics, and performing samplings and simulations. I also use R for reporting and technical document generation with R-markdown/KnitR. I'd be delighted to help you learn the R environment, including the powerful notion of R closures, and will show you some R best practices along the way.


I am tutoring students in both intro level statistics (basic probability, combinatorics, binomial distributions, central limit theory, normal distributions, T-tests, P-tests, hypothesis testing) and intermediate statistics (regression, correlation, F-tests, ANOVA, hierarchical clustering, principal component analysis, multivariate analysis). I use statistics everyday in my regular scientific software consulting practice, and I very much like finding the few key conceptual threads that will unravel the field for new students.

Georgetown University
Physics and History
University of California, San Diego


Georgetown University (Physics and History)

University of California, San Diego (PhD)

Best statistics teacher I've ever had

Peter is a lifesaver! I needed statistics help with my Master's thesis, and he was able to quickly understand the data I'm working with, suggest statistical tests that would be a better fit, and explain these tests in a very easy-to-understand manner! His teaching style helped me understand stats more quickly than any professor I've ever had. He was also able to identify certain biases and where t

— Jillian, Newton Center, MA on 11/4/16

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $75.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Peter will travel within 40 miles of Cambridge, MA 02138.