Mathematics and statistics provide powerful tools for explaining how the world works. Mathematics majors become particularly proficient with these tools. Connecticut College offers small classes, personal attention, and opportunities for individual exploration of topics in mathematics and statistics. Courses guide students into the worlds of theoretical and applied mathematics, from advanced courses in analysis and algebra to more applied classes such as statistics and differential equations.
Many Mathematics majors complete a second major or minor. While the most common combinations with mathematics are Economics, Physics, and Computer Science, others have included Biology, Classics, Dance, Theater, English and Government. Some students in the department complete one of the College’s four center certificate programs, or elementary or secondary education teaching certification in conjunction with their Mathematics major. Study Away options include specialized mathematics programs–the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics in Hungary and Math in Moscow in Russia.
During the summer, some students conduct paid and supervised research with professors, either on campus or as part of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at other colleges or universities. Many opt for internships in the private sector, working in banking and finance, the insurance industry, as actuaries, summer educational programs, or performing data analysis in any number of fields.
As a capstone project in their senior year, students present carefully crafted talks on topics they have researched independently. Some study a topic that highlights the role of mathematics or statistics in another field while others will delve deeper into an area of mathematics. Here are some examples of recent major capstone talks: “Complexity Theory in Biochemistry: Protein Folding is NP-Hard, Two-Person Games and the Axiom of Determinacy;” “The 3-Coloring Problem, Financial Derivatives and Partial Differential Equations, A Mathematical Analysis of Voting;” “The Mathematics of Backpropagation Neural Networks;” and “Classification of Wallpaper Groups.”
Small classes, accessible professors, one-on-one collaborations and informal functions help create a spirit of community and shared endeavor. Students serve as peer tutors in help centers in mathematics and statistics that support students in calculus, statistics and other courses offered by the department. Members of the department’s Student Advisory Board (SAB) organize game nights and other social events, including a belated Pi Day celebration (belated since Pi Day always falls during spring break), provide advice to other students during pre-registration information sessions, and design an annual department T-shirt. These events are often co-sponsored by the department’s student chapter of the Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM). Students with outstanding records in mathematics and statistics courses are selected for membership in Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society.
Students have opportunities to do mathematics outside of their classes by participating in local, regional and national competitions. The department holds an integrating bee and the Connecticut Collegiate Mathematics Competition (CMCC) annually. Each spring a team of statistics students spend a weekend conducting data analysis on a large complex data set at Datafest, a regional competition. Students participate in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a national problem-solving competition. We are proud to note that one of our students earned honorable mention on the Putnam exam in 2010–a significant and quite rare achievement for a student at a small liberal arts college.
Mathematics graduates pursue careers in scientific laboratories, computer firms, financial companies and education at all levels. Some enter graduate programs in fields such as mathematics, statistics, finance, economics, chemistry, or education. As students progress through the Mathematics major or minor, they interact with alumni, who often return to campus to give talks and offer career advice. Alumni who have returned to the college recently include a senior staff software engineer at Google, a partner in a venture capital fund who is also a certified financial advisor, a vice president for analytics and research at Travelers Insurance, a middle school mathematics teacher, a Ph.D. student in Biostatistics at Brown University, and college mathematics professors–a good representation of Connecticut College mathematics graduates’ careers.