2011-2012 Academic Catalog 
    
    Sep 19, 2019  
2011-2012 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Mathematics Major


Overview


Undergraduate Program


The department supports undergraduate majors and minors in computer science and in mathematics. The computer science program is described in the computer-science portion of this catalog. The department also offers courses that play an important role in other disciplines.

In keeping with liberal-arts traditions, Clark’s mathematics major provides a solid education in mathematical principles for students who wish to apply mathematics in other fields and students who wish to pursue mathematics in graduate school. Clark mathematics majors have gone on to graduate school in pure mathematics, applied mathematics and computer science at such universities as Brown, Cornell, NYU (Courant Institute), and Stonybrook. Graduates are employed in the public and private sectors as statisticians, mathematical modellers and actuaries, as well as teachers from the elementary to university level.

The mathematics major, built around a core of fundamental courses, is best started early with calculus (MATH 120  - MATH 121  or MATH 124  - MATH 125 ) in the first year. Advanced electives provide some flexibility and allow students to tailor the major to their needs.

Emeriti Faculty


John Kennison, Ph.D.

Program Requirements


The Mathematics Major:  

The Mathematics Major


Department faculty are eager to help students select courses. If a major has not been declared earlier, it must be declared by the end of the sophomore year. Students should choose an academic adviser from the department faculty as early as possible, and in any case by the end of the sophomore year. Entering students enrolled in first-year seminars in programs outside mathematics, computer science or the natural sciences are especially encouraged to make a prompt choice of an unofficial secondary adviser in the Mathematics Department, who will be able to supplement the advice offered by their primary adviser.

Core Courses


These courses are prerequisites for the advanced courses and should be taken as soon as possible.

Depth Courses


Four additional courses at the 200 level, one a capstone course to be selected with the major adviser (internships and reading courses will meet this requirement only with departmental approval.)

(Total of 12 or 13 courses, depending on student’s choice of calculus sequence. Note: MATH 110 - Diving into Research: Statistical Modeling  cannot be used to satisfy the requirements of the major.)

Suggested Specializations in Mathematics


Pure mathematics is the study of mathematics as an end in itself. Many students are originally attracted to mathematics because of its powerful applications, but a taste for pure mathematics often develops after studying the subject. Students planning to study mathematics in graduate school should consider programs in either pure or applied mathematics. Suggested courses: MATH 214 - Modern Analysis ; MATH 216 - Functions of a Complex Variable ; MATH 226 - Modern Algebra II ; and MATH 228 - Topology .

Applied mathematics is the study of mathematics as applied to the natural or social sciences. The heart of the field is modelling—translating aspects of natural or social phenomena into mathematical objects that can be studied with such mathematical tools as differential equations, linear systems and stochastic processes. Suggested courses: MATH 212 - Numerical Analysis ; MATH 214 - Modern Analysis ; MATH 216 - Functions of a Complex Variable ; MATH 217  - MATH 218 - Probability and Statistics and Topics in Statistics ; and MATH 244 - Differential Equations .

Actuarial science is the study of finance and insurance. Study in this field requires a grounding in mathematics and statistics and an understanding of economics and business management. Suggested courses: MATH 212 - Numerical Analysis ; MATH 217  - MATH 218 - Probability and Statistics and Topics in Statistics ; MATH 244 - Differential Equations ; and appropriate courses in economics or business management.

Secondary Education Certificate in Mathematics Education


Certificate requirements include courses in education and in mathematics. Consult the Education Department for information on required courses in education and the most recent state guidelines. The mathematics department recommends the completion of a regular mathematics major, with MATH 126 - Elementary Number Theory  and MATH 128 - Modern Geometry  included as the two elective Breadth Courses.

Calculus


Calculus is an essential tool for every serious student of mathematics or the natural sciences. It also is used in economics and other disciplines. The Department of Mathematics offers two calculus tracks: MATH 120 -MATH 121 -122 and MATH 124  - MATH 125 

Both tracks are open to first-year students with appropriate scores on the placement test. MATH 124  is geared towards students who have had prior experience with (regular and AP) calculus. Strong students in the physical sciences are urged to start with MATH 124 . The Mathematics Department generally recommends that even students with a high AP score take MATH 124 . In exceptional circumstances, first-year students may enroll in MATH 130 .

Mathematical Services


The mathematics department offers courses to help students using mathematics as a tool for studying other areas; see MATH 113 - Mathematical Problem Solving  and MATH 217  - MATH 218 - Probability and Statistics and Topics in Statistics . Outside the department, COPACE offers IDND017 Foundations of Quantitative Thinking.

Mathematics Placement Test


All students who intend to take mathematics courses or who need to satisfy the University’s mathematics proficiency requirement (with the exception of students with advanced-placement credit in calculus) must take the mathematics placement test given during orientation and preregistration. Based on placement test scores, some students will be required to pass IDND017 Foundations of Quantitative Thinking, offered through COPACE before they enroll in a formal-analysis course. Other students, who place at levels ranging from precalculus through MATH 124 , must begin in a course corresponding to their placement test scores. This course must not be higher or lower than the test score indicates. Students may challenge their placement by taking backup placement tests.

Reading Courses


Reading courses on special topics may be arranged with the permission of a member of the departmental faculty who will serve as supervisor. Departmental policy requires that a reading course can only be taken Pass/No Credit. Reading courses may not be substituted for 200-level courses to fulfill departmental requirements.

Honors


A major who maintains at least a 3.2 average (4.0 scale) in courses required for the major may apply for the departmental honors program. A student’s application in writing must be directed to a prospective honors adviser or the department chair by the end of the student’s junior year. Honors may be achieved in one of two ways:

1. A unified four-course sequence as a senior (some parts of which may consist of reading courses), followed by a comprehensive examination.

2. An honors project to be presented at an oral defense or at a department seminar. This project may be an independent or joint research thesis, or it may be a programming project. Supporting course work may be required. Students interested in pursuing the honors program should consult their department adviser. The student registers for MATH299, Sec. 8, for course credit for an honors thesis.

NOTE: Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the department may recommend graduation with honors, high honors or highest honors.