2016-2017 Academic Catalog 
    May 30, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Mathematics Major

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Mathematics Overview

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 department supports undergraduate majors and minors in mathematics and computer science. 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.


For more information, please visit the Mathematics Department’s website.

Mathematics Placement Test

All students who intend to enroll in an introductory mathematics course (with the exception of students with advanced-placement credit in calculus) must take the mathematics placement test given during preregistration. Based on placement test scores, students are placed into Precalculus, Calculus, or Honors Calculus. Students may challenge their placement by taking a backup placement test once.


Calculus is an essential tool for every serious student of mathematics, natural sciences, computer science and economics. The Department of Mathematics recommends that students with quantitative skills take Calculus in their first year.

Two Calculus tracks are open to students with appropriate scores on the Mathematics Placement Test: the regular track MATH 120 MATH 121 , and the Honors track MATH 124 MATH 125 . Both tracks start in the Fall. Students who do not place into Calculus, but place into Precalculus (MATH 119 ), can start with MATH 119  to prepare for Calculus and continue with MATH 120  the following year.

Regular Calculus, MATH 120 MATH 121 , is geared toward students interested in the natural and social sciences who do not plan to take any mathematics courses at a higher level.

Honors Calculus (MATH 124  –MATH 125  ) is the more theoretical track and prepares students for intermediate and upper level mathematics classes. It is therefore recommended that students with a strong mathematics background, who intend to take higher-level mathematics classes in the future, start with MATH 124  –MATH 125  . Those students are usually interested in Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science and Economics.

Students with a sufficiently high score on the AP (AB) Calculus test receive credit for MATH 120  . This credit fulfills the prerequisite for MATH 121  , but not for MATH 125  . It is recommended that those students start with MATH 124  and continue into MATH 125  if they are interested in taking higher-level mathematics classes in the future.

Students with a sufficiently high score on the AP (AB/BC) Calculus test receive credit for MATH 121  and may continue with MATH 130  . In exceptional circumstances, first-year students without credit for MATH 121  may enroll in MATH 130  with permission of the instructor.


Major Requirements


Department faculty are always ready to help students select courses. Students should choose an academic advisor from the department faculty as early as possible, but no later than by the end of their sophomore year. Students who choose mathematics or computer science as their second major or minor can choose a mathematics or computer science faculty as their second advisor who will supplement the advice offered by their primary advisor. Entering students interested in mathematics or computer science, but enrolled in a first-year intensive course in one of the programs outside mathematics, computer science or the natural sciences are especially encouraged to make a prompt choice of a second advisor from the mathematics or computer science faculty.

The mathematics major, built around a core of fundamental courses, is best started early with the Honors Calculus sequence MATH 124 MATH 125  in the first year. Advanced electives provide flexibility and allow students to tailor the major to their interests.

A total of 10 courses beyond two semesters of Honors Calculus are needed to complete the mathematics major: 4 core courses (MATH 130 , MATH 131 , MATH 172  and MATH 225 ) and 6 elective courses. At least 4 elective courses must be on the 200-level. Note that MATH 110 /111  (Diving into Research) cannot be used to substitute a requirement for the major.

Students who later decide to become mathematics majors, can substitute the Honors Calculus sequence (MATH 124 MATH 125 ) with the regular Calculus sequence (MATH 120 MATH 121 ), but are required to take MATH 114  (preferably together with MATH 121 ) as one of their elective courses.

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

Suggested Specializations in Mathematics

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.

Pure mathematics is the study of mathematics as an end in itself. Suggested courses: MATH 214 - Modern Analysis ; MATH 216 - Functions of a Complex Variable ; MATH 226 - Modern Algebra II ; MATH 228 - Topology; and MATH 230 - Differential Geometry .

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 ; MATH 220 - Introduction to Stochastic Modeling  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 220 - Introduction to Stochastic Modeling ; 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.


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 advisor 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 advisor and register to receive 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.


Mathematics Faculty


Jacqueline Dresch, Ph.D.
Frederic Green, Ph.D. - Program Director, Computer Science
Li Han, Ph.D.
David Joyce, Ph.D. - Chair
Gideon Maschler, Ph.D.
John Magee, Ph.D.
Lawrence Morris, Ph.D.
Natalia Sternberg, Ph.D.


John Kennison, Ph.D.
Lee Rudolph, Ph.D.

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