Senior Seminar Information (Class of 2014)

For the 2013-2014 academic year, the senior seminar topics are Topological Methods in Combinatorics and Advanced Topics in Biomathematics, both to be offered in the winter semester.

To ensure the senior seminar experience is an enriching experience it is necessary to keep class sizes relatively small and even. To help the department place students into seminars, each major who plans to take a senior seminar submits a proposal by the last day of classes of the winter semester of the junior year. Some details:

    • The proposal is a LaTeX document, a template, to be filled out carefully by the student.  The proposal should be approximately one page.  It should describe which senior seminar you prefer to take, and why.
    • As a hypothetical example, here is a sample completed proposal in PDF format as Bernhard Riemann would have submitted it.
    • Juniors abroad during the winter semester who do not have access to LaTeX may submit a proposal created in Word or whatever software is available. The proposal must follow the format of the sample PDF document.
    • By the due date, the completed proposal is to be emailed as a PDF document to Clementine Brasier (, Academic Administrative Assistant for Hathorn Hall.
    • The PDF file should have a useful, descriptive name. Riemann would’ve named his “BernhardRiemannSeminarProposal.pdf”, for example.
    • It is a good idea for juniors to discuss the choice between thesis and seminar with faculty members before writing a proposal.
    • The Department meets to consider all thesis and seminar proposals. The Department Chair will notify students of the results of the meeting by the middle of the short-term.
    • The course description for the Winter 2014 senior seminars are below.

Math 395I: Topological Methods in Combinatorics
How can the rent of a house with differently-sized rooms be divided among a group of people so that each person feels that he or she got the best deal? How can we prove that at this very moment there are two diametrically opposite points on Earth’s surface that have the same temperature and the same air pressure? After an introduction to the required basics of topology, geometry, and combinatorics, students independently explore these and related questions using the Borsuk-Ulam theorem, the Brouwer fixed point theorem, and their discrete versions.
Tentatively scheduled: MW 2:40-4:00.

Math 395J: Advanced Topics in Biomathematics
Biology is one of the most fertile sources of new mathematics. Research may be based on computation and data, or it may rely entirely on theorems and proofs. It may require calculus, linear algebra, graph theory, differential equations, or numerical analysis. Students in this seminar read biology-inspired mathematical research and present their findings to each other. The students in the seminar and their mathematical interests influence the selection of research papers to be investigated. No previous course in biology or mathematical modeling is required.
Tentatively scheduled: TR 1:10-2:30.

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