Students of mathematics may pursue topics outside the department's standard curriculum by completing an individual study or honors thesis. Such work may build on courses a student has already taken, may relate to research in a faculty member's area of specialization, or may connect to a project for one of the College's five centers for interdisciplinary scholarship.
There are three principal formats for doing independent work in mathematics:
Honors Study: MAT 497-498. A year-long course for seniors intending to write an honors thesis on a special topic or on original research. Students wishing to pursue honors study must have maintained a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all courses for the major and must submit an application to the department by the end of the junior year.
Individual Study: MAT 291, 292, 391, 392, 491, 492. A one-semester project at the intermediate or advanced level, generally on a topic not covered in a regularly offered course. Individual studies must be conducted under the direction of a faculty member and may, under certain circumstances, involve collaboration among multiple students.
Service-Learning Practicum: MAT 120, 220, 320. A two-credit course taken concurrently with another mathematics course at the same level. Students enrolled in the practicum serve as volunteers at a local school, at which they teach some aspect of the material from the mathematics course in which they are concurrently enrolled.
Although honors study in mathematics is fairly uncommon, it is certainly not unprecedented. Peter Luthy '05 (pictured here) wrote an honors thesis on functional analysis, advised by Professor Hammond, that won the College's Oakes and Louise Ames Prize, awarded to the graduating senior who has completed the year's most outstanding honors thesis.