About the Department
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics has eight permanent members with a wide variety of interests and areas of study. Small class sizes in upper level courses make interactions between students and professors quite easy. The professors take an interest in the progress of their students and are readily available for help with courses or advising. Students interested in a more interdisciplinary approach may consider our combined majors of mathematics/physics or economics/mathematics. Although the department does not offer a major in statistics, students interested in statistics should speak to a member of the department about course options and/or the data science minor. If students are considering an engineering field, Whitman has a long standing tradition of excellent 3-2 programs.
Students majoring in mathematics may have opportunities to work with faculty on research projects; some of these projects have resulted in presentations at professional meetings and/or publication in mathematics journals. Examples of such projects include research on jet engines, Java programming for the game of Hex, curvature of plane curves, location modeling problems, a study of cubic reciprocity, and radial basis problems. We also regularly have students participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) sponsored in the summer by other colleges/universities.
The department sponsors evening help sessions for calculus and statistics students, staffed by upper level mathematics students. On occasion, outside speakers are invited to campus to give talks on subjects of current interest in mathematics or statistics. Senior mathematics majors are able to receive helpful advice from professors concerning their future careers. Each spring, the department holds an informal dinner for all students majoring in mathematics, including awards for the most outstanding mathematics major and the best senior project.
Computing is an important aspect of a mathematics education and students are encouraged to become skilled in the use of computers. The department maintains its own network of GNU/Linux based PCs. During the evening hours, student consultants are available in the computer lab to help others with any problems that may arise.
Mathematics majors and combined mathematics majors have many doors open to them as quantitative reasoning skills are in high demand. Our majors have gone into a number of different areas such as business, law, medicine, engineering, telecommunications, statistics, actuarial science, and operations research, working for companies such as Microsoft, Deloitte Consulting, Active Voice Communication, ESPN, and Safeco. A number of our graduates are teaching mathematics at various levels; high school, college, or university. In recent years, our graduates have attended the University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, Oregon State, University of Washington, and others.