FIRST OF ALL, WHY MAJOR IN MATHEMATICS?
Suppose that you get a degree in mathematics. You are already in an elite group; each year for the last ten years, less than 1 in 100 undergraduate degrees has been in mathematics or statistics. Other than the satisfaction of having a degree in one of the most central and certainly one of the toughest fields, what else do you have? What can you do?
Well, first, why are mathematics and statistics so central? Galileo said, “The great book of nature can be read only by those who know the language in which it was written. And that language is mathematics.” Mathematics is the gateway to understanding the world around us.
This may seem like an overstatement, but consider the following. In 2003, a crew from Switzerland became the first European team ever to win sailing’s coveted America’s Cup. Little land-locked Switzerland defeated the defending New Zealand team 5-0, and had a similar record of success in the qualifying trials! Why? Well, not entirely due to mathematics; a great skipper and crew were essential, and there were important lightweight and strong materials in the hull. But the Swiss sponsors had the help of a group of mathematicians who used partial differential equations to model the movement of water around the hull, interactions of air and wind with the sails, and turbulence of the ocean. State-of-the-art computers using advanced numerical algorithms were then used to solve these equations. These solutions led to the best possible design for the hull and keel, and the placement and shape of sails. (This same team of mathematicians has since turned its attention and techniques to designing better surgical stents for blood flow!)
As shown above, the physical sciences have been closely connected to mathematics —the first needing the second, the second being inspired and enriched by the first— for hundreds of years. But the use of mathematics is increasing in all fields. Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation 1998-2004, observed that “mathematics is biology’s next microscope–only better.” An undergraduate biology textbook says ”teaching physiology without a mathematical description of the underlying dynamical processes is like teaching planetary motion to physicists without mentioning... Kepler’s laws; you can observe that there is a full moon every 28 days, but...you cannot determine when the next...eclipse will be.” In 2002, the British government was trying to improve the ability of British industries to compete in the world market. Part of its advice and summary was “Mathematics is the most versatile of all the sciences. It is uniquely well placed to respond to the demands of a rapidly changing economic landscape...Mathematics now has the opportunity more than ever before to underpin quantitative understanding of industrial strategy and processes across all sectors of business. Companies that take best advantage of this opportunity will gain a significant competitive advantage: mathematics truly gives industry the edge.”
So... Do the math!
SO WHY MATHEMATICS AT IU SOUTH BEND?
Now that you have some idea of why majoring in mathematics is an excellent choice, why should you study mathematics at IU South Bend? The answer lies in the varied and versatile degree programs, the mathematics faculty, and our record and reputation for producing quality graduates.
IU South Bend has excellent computer laboratories for student use and provides the most current software needed for mathematical, scientific, and statistical analysis. A key feature of our campus, to enhance student learning, is its commitment toward small class size: lower level undergraduate classes average fewer than 35 students each, while upper level and graduate courses average fewer than 20 students each.
Outstanding Teaching Faculty
The Department of Mathematical Sciences prides itself on its excellence in teaching. The current full-time faculty have been awarded 26 teaching honors and 1 advising award. Two faculty members have won both the prestigious All University Teaching Award and the IU South Bend Distinguished Teaching Award. Two faculty members are members of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET). In addition to encouraging faculty to participate in conferences and meetings on assessment and the scholarship of learning, it also has a yearly teaching retreat.
Excellence in Research and Scholarship
Faculty in the Department of Mathematical Sciences are active scholars in their fields, serving as editors, referees, and reviewers for peer-reviewed journals, and all have established records of scholarship by original research as shown by articles, books, and texts. One faculty member has won the IU Distinguished Research Award and another has won the 2013 The Canadian Journal of Statistics Award.
EXCELLENT PREPARATION FOR CAREERS AND GRADUATE SCHOOL
Students earning a BA in Mathematics or a BS in Applied Mathematics routinely place well into graduate schools, with several earning PhD’s in mathematics. Nearly all students earning a BS in Actuarial Science pass the first two actuarial examinations.
It is the current practice of the Department to subsidize our students by paying the fees for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and those actuarial examinations that students pass.