About Mathematics

The Figure-8 Knot.The Figure-8 Knot.

Mathematics is an essential element in a wide range of human activities. It is the language of the physical sciences, and as such is an indispensable tool in the formulation of the laws of nature. In the social and biological sciences, it plays an increasingly important role in modeling complicated, large-scale phenomena. In addition, ma­the­matics has an aesthetic side: awareness of the possibility of elegance and beauty in mathematical arguments has been a significant feature of human culture throughout history. Today more mathematics is being done, and more needs to be done, than ever before.

The undergraduate course offerings in Mathematics allow students to set up individualized programs of study consistent with their academic interests and career plans. Students should consider majoring in Mathematics even if they do not plan to become mathematicians or teachers of mathematics. The training in abstract reasoning and problem-solving is an excellent foundation for many different careers, such as law, graduate health professions, and business.  Completion of a major in Mathematics points to a thinking person.

Students are encouraged to explore the various branches of pure and applied mathematics, as well as other mathematically oriented disciplines, to gain both breadth of knowledge and insight into career options. Mathematics majors can use their training as the foundation for advanced professional study, leading to research and teaching in universities or research in industrial research laboratories; they can use it also in secondary school teaching. In industry, undergraduate training in mathematics is excellent preparation for the important task of liaison work between the technological arm of a company and its marketing arm. A major in Mathematics is particularly appropriate for work in computer applications, operations research, and actuarial science. Double majors in Mathe­­matics and another field, such as physics, computer science, applied mathematics and statistics, or economics, are common and are encouraged.

The secondary teacher education option is designed for students planning a career teaching mathematics in a secondary school. This option is described in detail in the "Education and Teacher Certification" entry in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs of the Undergraduate Bulletin

The Department of Mathematics offers tutorial help to all undergraduate students in its 100-level courses in the Mathematics Learning Center. Since the Center's staff consists of faculty and graduate students in mathematics as well as undergraduate tutors, students in more advanced courses can also find assistance there.

The Department encourages students to seek information and advice on appropriate mathematics courses, programs, and career goals. Professors in mathematics are available as advisors in the Under­graduate Mathematics Office to help with these matters. Advising hours can be obtained by calling the Department of Mathematics.