About the Mathematics Department
Mathematics is one of the oldest learned disciplines, and continues to be a vital and developing topic of research. It is the basis for understanding much of the physical world, and it has become essential for the study of modern developments in the social sciences. Mathematics graduates are very much in demand in teaching, the business world, and the computing professions. The Vassar Mathematics Department offers a flexible major, enabling students to tailor their course of study for a range of interests, as well as a correlate sequence for students concentrating in other disciplines. Our biweekly colloquium, the annual Asprey Lecture, and participation in URSI are extracurricular opportunities to get a glimpse of the living subject that is present-day mathematics.
Mathematics begins with the notions of number, shape, function, and data and through the process of formal, logical reasoning discovers the patterns and relations between these ideas to articulate mathematical truths. These truths are rigorously derived through proof, the language of mathematics.
The study of mathematics at Vassar develops a precision of thought and articulation that is valued highly outside of mathematics, for example, in law or in science. The curriculum ranges over a large portion of the landscape of mathematical ideas from symmetries to measures of randomness, from the calculus to abstract vector spaces. Developing a student’s intuition about new mathematical objects is a goal of our courses, accomplished through lecture, workshop, assignments, and oral and written presentations.
There are many paths through the mathematics major with emphases on algebra, analysis, geometry, and statistics. Extracurricular opportunities to learn about mathematics can be found in the various series of lectures and conversation hosted by the department, and the summer research program URSI (Undergraduate Research Summer Institute) at Vassar. Faculty research ranges from algebra, analysis, topology, and statistics to dynamical systems and logic.
Graduates with mathematics majors are in high demand in graduate programs in economics, business, and engineering, and in education, law, and computing. The demands of critical thinking, precise reasoning and effective communication that mathematics requires are also central to the goal of a liberal arts education and they apply in almost every activity in life.