Capstone: Seminar or Thesis

The objective of the capstone experience in the Mathematics Major at Bates College is to establish and reinforce a culture of mathematical research among our majors and faculty. Our expectation is to increase seniors’ “mathematical maturity”, which is seen in many ways as students

  • learn to work independently
  • see connections across various mathematical disciplines
  • interact with others to solve mathematics problems
  • present the results of their work at talks, meetings and poster sessions
  • write mathematics in a clear, professional style which captures the reader’s interest
  • explain mathematics comfortably to a variety of audiences

While the capstone experience can be different for each student, there are two primary categories, each of which requires at least one semester of work.

  1. The senior seminar: Offered in the winter semester of the senior year, the seminar considers a topic chosen by a faculty member. After a few introductory lectures by the professor, the students take over, giving lectures to their peers and writing up these talks. The lectures are based on some advanced readings, either from a text or published paper. There may also be opportunies for students to research their own questions, and then present the results to the class and in writing. Seniors taking the seminar will register for math 395 during the fall registration period.
  2. The thesis: There are different kinds of thesis opportunities, detailed on the department’s Thesis Information page.

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