Mathematics is the study of structure and the way it can be applied to solve specific problems. The mathematics one sees in high school and the first year or so of college—techniques for solving equations, trigonometry, analytic geometry and calculus—represents only a small corner of the discipline. Some of the structures discussed in more advanced courses include algebraic systems such as groups and vector spaces, geometric notions such as surfaces, manifolds and topological spaces, and spaces of differentiable or integrable functions. Such structures are used to construct mathematical models that may explain and predict events in a wide variety of disciplines. Mathematics, a diverse field encompassing many subjects, has been with us since antiquity and is a pervasive force in our society. The major branches of mathematics—algebra, analysis, geometry, and logic in pure mathematics; applied analysis, combinatorics, probability and statistics, and operations research in applied mathematics—are well-represented among our faculty's research interests.
As mathematics is both a technical and cultural field of study, the curriculum is planned with the following varied objectives: (1) to offer students an introduction to mathematics as an important area of human thought; (2) to prepare students for graduate study in pure or applied mathematics, and in such related fields as statistics and operations research; (3) to serve the needs of students in fields that rely substantially on mathematics, such as the physical, biological, social and information sciences, engineering, and business administration; and (4) to provide liberal arts students with an introduction to the kinds of mathematical and quantitative thinking important in the contemporary world. Students seeking guidance in the selection of courses are strongly urged to confer with a member of the department, all of whom are happy to be consulted.