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Mathematics and Statistics Department
D. Benjamin Mathes
Major in Mathematics
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The Department of Mathematics offers a broad variety of mathematics courses, ranging from introductory calculus and statistics courses to advanced seminars that delve deeply into the theory and applications of mathematics. This variety allows students to tailor their programs to their mathematical backgrounds and interests.
Every year, over 350 students take the first-year calculus courses and about 200 students take the elementary statistics courses. Many go on to take more advanced courses. Specially designed courses on mathematics as a liberal art and on statistical thinking are provided for students who have an interest in mathematics, but who neither need nor desire to pursue formal mathematical education beyond this stage.
All mathematics courses are taught in small sections of no more than 30 students, allowing extensive contact among faculty and students. Many courses make extensive use of projects, group work, writing, computer technology, and other innovative teaching techniques to support more traditional forms of instruction.
At present the department has eleven faculty members, two of whom are statisticians. Faculty interests include algebraic geometry, commutative algebra, history of mathematics, functional analysis, geometric group theory, geometric topology, knot theory, linear algebra, matrix theory, mathematics education, mathematical epidemiology, mathematical neuroscience, measure theory, number theory, operator theory, and statistical methods in epidemiology and public health. Faculty members are active researchers in their fields and are active participants in the research and educational communities on national and international levels.
The department offers two mathematics majors. The traditional mathematics major offers a deep grounding in mathematics, focusing mostly on the core of the subject. This major will prepare students for the career options where a thorough knowledge of mathematics is essential. The mathematical sciences major has a more applied flavor and allows students to survey the subject in a flexible way. This major is especially appropriate for students seeking professional training in applied sciences and statistics.
In addition, students have opportunities to complete Honors Projects, pursue special topics through independent study, and carry out research in mathematics and statistics.
The usefulness of mathematics in a wide range of other subjects makes a major in mathematics a very good complement to a major in another field. Because of this, many students choose either to minor in mathematics or to have mathematics be one half of a double major. Recent graduates and current students have joined the mathematics majors with majors in biology, chemistry, computer science, economics, government, physics, and psychology, among others.
The department also offers a minor in mathematics for students who wish to supplement other programs without a commitment to a major.
The Colby curriculum is broad and challenging and can provide students with a solid foundation in contemporary mathematics. In recent years, mathematics graduates have gone on to careers in management, actuarial science, banking, insurance, law, communications, and the computer industry, and to do graduate work in mathematics, statistics, computer science, economics, business administration, physics, medicine, law, and biomathematics.
The faculty in the department are always willing to show prospective students and their parents around and to discuss mathematics study at Colby.