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Majors and Minor

Faculty and professional interests

Pedro Teixeira , chair
   Commutative algebra, algebraic geometry
Mary Vlastnik Armon
   Number theory, analysis
Ole J. Forsberg
   Probability, statistics, statistical modeling, electoral forensics
Kevin Hastings
   Probability, statistics, operations research, financial mathematics
Andrew Leahy (On leave Fall 2016)
   Group representation theory, history of mathematics
Dennis Schneider
   Real and complex analysis, functional analysis

The Department of Mathematics offers a rigorous core curriculum that challenges students to think abstractly, recognize and generalize patterns, communicate ideas, and define and solve problems. In addition, mathematics students can explore exciting developments in this rapidly changing field through special topics courses and independent research in areas such as game theory, chaos, and cryptography.

Mathematics students begin with a solid foundation in calculus, linear algebra and mathematical structures before proceeding to a variety of advanced courses and independent work. All mathematics majors are also required to finish an independent research project leading to a public presentation before they graduate. Some opt for a year-long honors project in the department instead. Recent research and honors projects have dealt with a wide array of topics such as measure theory and financial mathematics, analytic and numerical solutions to partial differential equations, and factorization algorithms and their application to computer security.

Faculty research encompasses a range of both pure and applied areas of mathematics, and advanced projects are often driven by both student and faculty interests. Recent student projects have dealt with projective geometry, computer security and distributed computing, and modeling everything from epidemics to stock prices. In addition, students have assisted with curriculum development projects centered around Mathematica, a computing environment for doing mathematics that is used extensively in introductory as well as advanced mathematics courses.

The department also offers a major in the area of Financial Mathematics. This field of study focuses on the properties of investment objects, investor's and firm's attitudes toward risk, and the consequences to individual investor behavior as well as that of the whole market. It is a subject of much current interest, both theoretical and practical, which combines mathematical reasoning with economic insights. Coursework in Financial Mathematics provides a solid stepping stone to careers in the actuarial field.

Mathematics and Financial Mathematics majors have completed distinguished graduate programs in mathematics, computer science, statistics, economics, biomathematics, engineering and operations research. Other graduates have become respected teachers, or have been sought out by computer and consulting firms, insurance companies, actuaries, banks and government agencies.

In recent years, with the advent of widely available, huge sets of data, it has become essential for students to have the necessary skills to turn data into information, and thereby, into action. Therefore the study of statistics has become more important than ever for an enlightened society. The minor in Statistics serves as a fitting companion to a number of majors for which statistical analysis is an essential part, including Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Educational Studies, Biology, and many other fields of inquiry. The minor combines essential theoretical background with the equally important direct practice of statistics. As a capstone experience, students do an internship with an external organization, or a research project supervised directly by a faculty member.

The departmental curriculum contributes to the College's Key Competency Requirements as follows:

  • Writing Key Competency - MATH 300, 321, 331, and 341 serve as writing-intensive courses for majors
  • Speaking Key Competency - MATH 361, 399, or a completed honors project serve as speaking-intensive courses for majors
  • Information Literacy and Informed Use of Technology - Mathematics majors become proficient in the state-of-the-art computer algebra system Mathematica for numerical, symbolic, and graphical problem solving.

Departmental Learning Goals

Students completing a major in Mathematics will be able to:

  1. Reason logically and demonstrate complex problem-solving skills
  2. Demonstrate competency in the core of the discipline
  3. Communicate effectively in the language of the discipline
  4. Demonstrate a knowledge of how to use technology to support investigation

Students completing a major in Financial Mathematics will:

  1. Apply the concept of randomness appropriately to financial modeling
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the nature of financial quantities and the mathematical and economic relationships between them
  3. Combine economic reasoning with mathematical rigor to solve problems
  4. Write and speak correctly in the language of the discipline of Financial Mathematics

Students completing a minor in Statistics will be able to:

  1. Describe data both graphically and numerically in order to tell a meaningful story about it
  2. Express the rationale behind, and carry out, standard statistical techniques for analyzing single and multiple variable data, attending to assumptions and limitations
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the probabilistic underpinnings of statistical models
  4. Carry out common statistical procedures proficiently using software

Requirements for the Majors and Minors

Mathematics Course Descriptions

Knox College

Printed on Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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