Math Major

Why Study Math?

  • The mathematics of error-correcting codes is applied to CD players and to computers.
  • Whenever it is said that advances are made with supercomputers, there has to be a mathematical theory which instructs the computer thus allowing it to apply its capacity for speed and accuracy.
  • The development of computers was initiated in this country by mathematicians and logicians, who continue to make important contributions to the theory of computer science.
  • The next generation of software requires the latest methods from what is called category theory, a theory of mathematical structures which has given new perspectives on the foundations of mathematics and on logic.
  • The physical sciences (chemistry, physics, oceanography, astronomy) require mathematics for the development of their theories.
  • In ecology, mathematics is used when studying the laws of population change.
  • Statistics provides the theory and methodology for the analysis for a variety of data.
  • Statistics are also essential in medicine, used in the analyse of data as to the causes of illness and the utility of new drugs.
  • Travel by airplane would not be possible without the mathematics of airflow and control systems.
  • Suppose you love mathematics, but ultimately see yourself pursuing a career as a doctor, lawyer, or in business. Professional graduate schools in medicine, law, and business think mathematics is a great major because it develops analytical skills and the ability to work in a problem-solving environment. Their entrance tests support this bias, so the more math you know the better you will do on their exams.
  • The National Institute of Education conducted a study comparing the scores of 550,000 college students who took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), with data collected over the previous eighteen years. The study showed that students majoring in mathematics received scores substantially higher than the average on each of the tests.
  • Body scanners are the expression of subtle mathematics, discovered in the 19th century, which makes it possible to construct an image of the inside of an object from information on a number of single X-ray views of it. Thus mathematics is often involved in matters of life and death.

Get Involved

  • The Department of Mathematical Sciences has an active chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon. All interested students are welcome to participate. The club sponsors monthly talks on topics related to mathematics and holds meetings with refreshments after the talks. For more information contact Bruce Olberding.
  • Undergraduate mathematics majors regularly compete in the Putnam exam and in the Comap Math Modeling Contest. Professor Richard Bagby organizes these events.
  • The department employs students in the Math Success Center and as peer-learning-assistants in many lower-division math classes.