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Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Mathematics Course Descriptions

This page contains a description of each Mathematics course taught in the department. Descriptions are taken from the Colleges' catalog. See also the course descriptions for Computer Science courses.

MATH 100: Elementary Functions. Intended for students who plan to continue in the calculus sequence, this course involves the study of basic functions: polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric. Topics include a review of the real number system, equations and inequalities, graphing techniques, and applications of functions. A problem-solving lab is an integral part of the course. Permission of instructor is required. This course does not count toward the major or minor in mathematics. (Offered annually)

MATH 110: Discovering in Mathematics. A study of selected topics dealing with the nature of mathematics, this course has an emphasis on the origins of mathematics, and a focus on mathematics as a creative endeavor. This course does not count toward the major or minor in mathematics. (Offered each semester)

MATH 114: Mathematics for Informed Citizenships This course explores the uses and abuses of numbers in a wide variety of areas. The modern world is built of numbers. In science, medicine, business, politics, and even culture, numbers are used to bolster claims and debunk conventional wisdom. A deeper understanding of the mathematics behind these arguments can help us determine what to trust and when to doubt, teach us how to weigh the risks versus rewards, and allow us to come to grip with the vast scale of the universe and the national debt. Mathematical topics will include randomness, basic statistics, linear regression, inference and nonlinearity. An emphasis is placed on critical engagement with numerical evidence and mathematical thinking as deployed in the culture at large. The course has significant writing component.

MATH 115: Foundations of School Math. Students will study the mathematical foundations of elementary school mathematics. This course will develop a student's abilities to reason mathematically, to solve mathematical problems, and to communicate mathematical ideas effectively. Primary attention will be devoted to mathematical reasoning in areas drawn from number systems and algebraic structures, number theory, algebra and geometry, probability and statistics, and discrete mathematics. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the nature and structure of mathematics and more specifically of how elementary school mathematics is embedded within the broader discipline of mathematics. ( Prerequisite: must be in the Teacher Education Program pursuing certification to teach in an elementary school setting.)

MATH 130: Calculus I. This course offers a standard introduction to the concepts and techniques of the differential calculus of functions of one variable. A problem-solving lab is an integral part of the course. This course does not count towards the major in mathematics. Prerequisite: Satisfactory performance on the department's placement exam, or MATH 100. (Offered each semester)

MATH 131: Calculus II. This course is a continuation of the topics covered in MATH 130 with an emphasis on integral calculus, sequences, and series. A problem-solving lab is an integral part of the course. Prerequisite: MATH 130 or permission of the instructor. (Offered each semester)

MATH 135: First Steps Into Advanced Mathematics. This course emphasizes the process of mathematical reasoning, discovery, and argument. It aims to acquaint students with the nature of mathematics as a creative endeavor, demonstrates the methods and structure of mathematical proof, and focuses on the development of problem-solving skills. Specific topics covered vary from year to year. MATH 135 is required for the major and minor in mathematics. Prerequisite: MATH 131 or permission of the instructor. (Offered each semester)

MATH 204: Linear Algebra. This course is an introduction to the concepts and methods of linear algebra. Among the most important topics are general vector spaces and their subspaces, linear independence, spanning and basis sets, solution space for systems of linear equations, and linear transformations and their matrix representations. It is designed to develop an appreciation for the process of mathematical abstraction and the creation of a mathematical theory. Prerequisites: MATH 131, and MATH 135 strongly suggested, or permission of the instructor. Required for the major in mathematics. (Offered annually)

MATH 214: Applied Linear Algebra. A continuation of linear algebra with an emphasis on applications. Among the important topics are eigenvalues and eigenvectors, diagonalization, and linear programming theory. The course explores how the concepts of linear algebra are applied in various areas, such as, graph theory, game theory, differential equations, Markov chains, and least squares approximation. Prerequisite: MATH 204. (Offered alternate years)

MATH 232: Multivariable Calculus. A study of the concepts and techniques of the calculus of functions of several variables, this course is required for the major in mathematics. Prerequisite: MATH 131. (Offered annually)

MATH 237: Differential Equations. This course is an introduction to the theory, solution techniques, and applications of ordinary differential equations. Models illustrating applications in the physical and social sciences are investigated. The mathematical theory of linear differential equations is explored in depth. Prerequisites: Math 232 and 204, or permission of the instructor. Math 204 may be taken concurrently. (Offered annually)

MATH 278: Number Theory. This course couples reason and imagination to consider a number of theoretical problems, some solved and some unsolved. Topics include divisibility, primes, congruences, number theoretic functions, primitive roots, quadratic residues, and quadratic reciprocity, with additional topics selected from perfect numbers, Fermat's Theorem, sums of squares, and Fibonacci numbers. Prerequisites: MATH 135 and MATH 204, or permission of the instructor. (Offered alternate years)

MATH 313: Graph Theory. A graph is an ordered pair (V,E) where V is a set of elements called vertices and E is a set of unordered pairs of elements of V called edges. This simple definition can be used to model many ideas and applications. While many of the earliest records of graph theory relate to the studies of strategies of games such as chess, mathematicians realized that graph theory is powerful well beyond the realm of recreational activity. In this class, we will begin by exploring the basic structures of graphs including connectivity, subgraphs, isomorphisms and trees. Then we will investigate some of the major results in areas of graph theory such as traversability, coloring and planarity. Course projects may also research other areas such as independence, domination and matching. Prerequisites: MATH 135 and MATH 204. (Offered every third year)

MATH 331: Foundations of Analysis I. This course offers a careful treatment of the definitions and major theorems regarding limits, continuity, differentiability, integrability, sequences, and series for functions of a single variable. Prerequisites: MATH 135 and MATH 204. (Offered annually)

MATH 350: Probability. This is an introductory course in probability with an emphasis on the development of the studentÂ¿s ability to solve problems and build models. Topics include discrete and continuous probability, random variables, density functions, distributions, the Law of Large Numbers, and the Central Limit Theorem. Prerequisite: MATH 232 or permission of instructor. (Offered alternate years)

MATH 351: Mathematical Statistics. This is a course in the basic mathematical theory of statistics. It includes the theory of estimation, hypothesis testing, and linear models, and, if time permits, a brief introduction to one or more further topics in statistics (e.g., nonparametric statistics, decision theory, experimental design). In conjunction with an investigation of the mathematical theory, attention is paid to the intuitive understanding of the use and limitations of statistical procedures in applied problems. Students are encouraged to investigate a topic of their own choosing in statistics. Prerequisite: MATH 350. (Offered alternate years)

MATH 353: Mathematical Models. This course investigates a variety of mathematical models from economics, biology, and the social sciences. In the course of studying these models, such mathematical topics as difference equations, eigenvalues, dynamic systems, and stability are developed. This course emphasizes the involvement of students through the construction and investigation of models on their own. Prerequisites: MATH 204 and MATH 237, or permission of the instructor. (Offered every third year)

MATH 360: Foundations of Geometry. An introduction to the axiomatic method as illustrated by neutral, Euclidean, and non-Euclidean geometries. Careful attention is given to proofs and definitions. The historical aspects of the rise of non-Euclidean geometry are explored. This course is highly recommended for students interested in secondary school teaching. Prerequisite: MATH 331 or MATH 375, or permission of the instructor. (Offered every third year)

MATH 371: Topics in Mathematics. Each time this course is offered, it covers a topic in mathematics that is not usually offered as a regular course. This course may be repeated for grade or credit. Some past topics include combinatorics, numerical analysis, and wavelets. Prerequisites: MATH 135 and MATH 204, or permission of instructor. (Offered occasionally)

MATH 375: Abstract Algebra I. This course studies abstract algebraic systems such as groups, examples of which are abundant throughout mathematics. It attempts to understand the process of mathematical abstraction, the formulation of algebraic axiom systems, and the development of an abstract theory from these axiom systems. An important objective of the course is mastery of the reasoning characteristic of abstract mathematics. Prerequisites: MATH 135 and MATH 204, or permission of the instructor. (Offered annually)

MATH 380: Mathematical Logic. First-order logic is developed as a basis for understanding the nature of mathematical proofs and constructions and to gain skills in dealing with formal languages. Topics covered include propositional and sentential logic, logical proofs, and models of theories. Examples are drawn mainly from mathematics, but the ability to deal with abstract concepts and their formalizations is beneficial. Prerequisite: MATH 135 and MATH 204, or permission of the instructor. (Offered every third year)

MATH 436: Topology. This course covers the fundamentals of point set topology, starting from axioms that define a topological space. Topics typically include: topological equivalence, continuity, connectedness, compactness, metric spaces, product spaces, and separation axioms. Some topics from algebraic topology, such as the fundamental group, might also be introduced. Prerequisite: MATH 331 or permission of the instructor. (Offered every third year)

MATH 448: Complex Analysis. An introduction to the theory of functions of a complex variable. Topics include the geometry of the complex plane, analytic functions, series expansions, complex integration, and residue theory. When time allows, harmonic functions and boundary value problems are discussed. Prerequisite: MATH 331 or permission of the instructor. (Offered every third year)

MATH 471: Mathematics Capstone While the subject matter varies, the writing enriched capstone seminar addresses an advanced topic in mathematics. The development of the topic draws on students' previous course work and helps consolidate their earlier learning. Students are active participants, presenting material to one another in both oral and written form, and conducting individual research on related questions or analyzing a specific mathematical concept from multiple perspectives.