Jul 17, 2019  
Course Catalog 2014-2015 
Course Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Elizabeth Wilmer, Professor, Department Chair
Robert A. Bosch, Professor
Jack Calcut, Assistant Professor
Susan Jane Colley, Andrew and Pauline Delaney Professor
Kay M. Knight, Lecturer
Christoph A. Marx, Assistant Professor
Michael W. Raney, Visiting Assistant Professor
Lauren A. Thompson. Assistant Professor 
James A. Walsh, Professor
Jeffrey Alvin Witmer, Professor
Kevin Woods, Associate Professor
Robert M. Young, James F. Clark Professor 

As mathematics is both a technical and cultural field of study, the curriculum is planned with the following varied objectives: (1) to offer students an introduction to mathematics as an important area of human thought; (2) to prepare students for graduate study in pure or applied mathematics, and in such related fields as statistics and operations research; (3) to serve the needs of students in fields that rely substantially on mathematics, such as the physical, biological, social and information sciences, engineering, and business administration; and (4) to provide liberal arts students with an introduction to the kinds of mathematical and quantitative thinking important in the contemporary world.

Students seeking guidance in the selection of courses are strongly urged to confer with a member of the department, all of whom are happy to be consulted. The following information will provide a preliminary basis for making plans and choices. 

Placement Exams. Students wishing to enroll in an entry-level calculus course (MATH 131, 132, or 133) must take the Calculus Readiness Exam (which covers precalculus only). Likewise, students wishing to enroll in an entry-level statistics course (STAT 113 or 114) must take the Statistics Readiness Exam. Placement exams are given twice during orientation. At other times they may be taken online or by arrangement with the Mathematics Department Administrative Assistant. Please note that all students, regardless of their examination scores, are encouraged to consult with a member of the Mathematics Department or Statistical Methods Committee concerning their placement in the mathematics or statistics curriculum.

            Important Note: Only students interested in MATH 131, 132 or 133 or STAT 113, 114 need to take a
            placement exam. Students who need work in algebra or other basic quantitative skills should consult the
            “Learning Assistance Program” section of this catalog. 

Advanced Placement. Students who have taken one of the College Board Advanced Placement Program examinations in calculus, or the examination in statistics, will receive credit as follows. Students scoring 4 or 5 on the BC examination in calculus receive credit for two full academic courses, equivalent to MATH 133 and 134. Students scoring 3 on the BC examination in calculus with an AB sub-score of 4 or 5 receive credit for one full academic course, equivalent to MATH 133. Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AB examination in calculus receive credit for one full academic course, equivalent to MATH 133. No credit is given for scores on the examination in statistics; however, students scoring a 3 or higher are encouraged to enroll in STAT 215.

Students given credit for MATH 133 or 134 in this way do not need to take the Calculus Readiness Exam or the Statistics Readiness Exam.  They are encouraged to place themselves at the appropriate level in the mathematics or statistics curriculum according to the guidelines below (see Initial Placement and Course Sequence Suggestions) in consultation with a member of the Mathematics Department or the Statistical Methods Committee. 

Students who have taken International Baccalaureate exams and received a High Level score of 6 or 7 will receive credit for Math 133 and 134.  Those who received a high level score of 5 will receive credit for Math 133. 

Initial Placement and Course Sequence Suggestions. Students who wish to continue their study of mathematics can choose among the following courses: 

Courses Without Prerequisites. Students who wish to satisfy the Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QFR) requirement, or who want to take a course in mathematics (simply out of curiosity) are encouraged to consider the courses with numbers less than 100.

Entry-level Statistics Courses. Students whose primary interest is in the social, behavioral, or biological sciences and who have no need for calculus are encouraged to consider enrolling in STAT 113–Introduction to Statistics or STAT 114–Introduction to Biostatistics. (See the Statistical Methods  Section.)  These courses presuppose good algebra skills and require an appropriate score on the Statistics Readiness Exam.  Students with a score of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement examination in Statistics should consider enrolling in STAT 215–Statistics and Modeling.

Entry-level Calculus Courses.   Students whose interests are in mathematics, or in a field requiring calculus, and who have not yet taken calculus, will normally enroll in MATH 131–Calculus Ia: Limits, Continuity, and Differentiation, or in MATH 133–Calculus I: Limits, Continuity, Differentiation, Integration, and Applications. The particular course, MATH 131 or MATH 133, depends on the student’s score on the Calculus Readiness Exam. Note that students who wish to continue with calculus after completing MATH 131 should take its sequel, MATH 132–Calculus Ib: Integration and Applications. The two semester sequence MATH 131, 132 is equivalent to the more intensive single semester course, MATH 133.

Courses Following Entry-level Calculus. Students whose secondary-school preparation includes satisfactory work in calculus equivalent to MATH 133, obtained in the College Board Advanced Placement Program or a comparable course of study, as well as students who have completed either MATH 132 or 133, can continue their study of calculus with MATH 134–Calculus II: Special Functions, Integration Techniques, and Power Series. This course completes a standard year-long introduction to the calculus of functions of one variable. 

Courses Following Calculus. Students who have completed MATH 134 or have been granted credit for this course through the College Board Advanced Placement Program or a comparable course of study can register for any of several intermediate level courses, MATH 220–Discrete Mathematics or MATH 231–Multivariable Calculus or MATH 232–Linear Algebra or MATH 234-Differential Equations.  Students planning to major in mathematics are strongly encouraged to enroll in MATH 220 before taking MATH 232.

First-year students should not register for a 300-level mathematics course without consulting a member of the Mathematics Department.


A major in mathematics consists of 9 full academic courses, which must include:

    A.  MATH 220, 231 and 232.
    B.  Four 300-level mathematics (MATH) and statistics (STAT) courses, which must include

          1.  MATH 301 and 327.
          2.  One modeling course from among MATH 331, 335, 338, 342, 343, 345 or 348, or STAT 336, 337.

    C.  Two additional mathematics (MATH) or statistics (STAT) courses numbered 200 or above.

Note:  One or both of the courses in item C above can be replaced by a course or courses from the following list:

     i.   (a)  Computer Science courses CSCI 150, 151, 210, 241, 275.  Only one of these courses may count towards the mathematics major.

          (b)  Computer Science courses CSCI 280, 357, 365, 383.

    ii.  Physics and Astronomy courses ASTR 301, 302 and PHYS 212, 290, 310, 311, 312, 316, 340, 410, 411-12 (the module courses PHYS 411 and PHYS 412 together count as one course).

    iii.  Chemistry courses CHEM 339, 349.

    iv.  Economics courses ECON 342, 351, 353, 355.

The department frequently offers a 300-level seminar in addition to its regular offerings.  Students should check with the instructor to find out whether the seminar can be used to fulfill requirement B.2 above.   

Important Notes

Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C– or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.

Students planning to pursue graduate work in mathematics, or a closely related field, need to complete more than the minimum requirements for the mathematics major.  All students interested in graduate work in mathematics should plan their major carefully with the advice of a member of the Mathematics Department.

Students interested in graduate work in pure mathematics should complete at least a second algebra course (MATH 317, 328, 329) and a second analysis course (MATH 302, 356).  Moreover, MATH 350 and MATH 353 provide introductions to fundamental areas of pure mathematics.

Students interested in graduate studies in applied mathematics have several options.  In the area of Operations Research, students should complete MATH 331, 335, and 338.  Students with interests in probability and statistics should take MATH 335 and STAT 336 and 337.  The courses MATH 342, 343, 345, and 348 serve as introductions to fundamental areas of discrete applied mathematics.

The minimum requirement of 9 full courses is appropriate for students using mathematics as preparation for careers in fields such as secondary-school teaching, medicine, law, or business.  Students having related interests in chemistry, computer science, economics or physics should note that up to two courses from those listed after item C above can count towards the mathematics major.  This option supports our belief that mathematics majors should obtain substantial background in some field that uses mathematics.  Finally, interdisciplinary majors involving a coherent program of work in mathematics and a related field can be arranged through the College Individual Majors Committee to suit special student interests and needs.


A minor in mathematics consists of at least five full academic courses in mathematics (MATH) and statistics (STAT) numbered 200 and above, including at least two courses numbered 300 and above.


At the end of their junior year, students with outstanding records are invited to participate in the Mathematics Honors Program. For their senior year, honors students normally elect one full academic course of independent study each semester. This special study, which is supervised by a faculty advisor who works closely with the student, results in an Honors paper. Honors students also take a comprehensive written examination at the end of Winter Term and, at the end of the academic year, an oral examination on the material in their Honors paper. These examinations are conducted by an outside examiner. More detailed information on the Honors Program is available from the Department.

Winter Term

Most members of the Mathematics Department will be participating in Winter Term 2015 and are available to sponsor projects.  Normally, Winter Term projects do not entail the learning of material taught in any of our regularly offered courses.

Mathematical interests in the department include abstract algebra, algebraic geometry, combinatorics, cryptography, dynamical systems, mathematics and computation, differential equations, differential geometry, history of mathematics, mathematics education, non-Euclidean geometry, number theory, operations research, probability, real and complex analysis, topology, and statistics.

Avocational interests of Department members which could form the basis for a  Winter Term project include electronic composition and synthesis of music, games of strategy, and juggling. For further information regarding these possibilities, inquire in the Mathematics Department office.

John D. Baum Memorial Prize in Mathematics

Established by the Mathematics Department, this $200 prize is awarded annually to the Oberlin College student who has achieved the highest score on the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition.

Rebecca Cary Orr Memorial Prize in Mathematics

Established by the family and friends of Rebecca Cary Orr, this $3000 prize is awarded annually by the Mathematics Department on the basis of scholastic achievement and promise for future professional accomplishment.

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