Senior Seminar Information (Class of 2018)

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the senior seminar topics are Cryptography and Networks.

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.
    1. 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 Laura Wardwell (, 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 descriptions for the Winter 2018 senior seminars are below.

MATH 495H. Cryptography (Professor Salerno)
Public Key Cryptography is at the center of most secure transactions we do these days, like using your credit card online or sending and signing secure messages. The security of a cryptosystem relies on finding solutions to difficult math problems like factorization of large numbers and the discrete logarithm problem. After an introduction to the basics, each student studies various methods of encryption like the RSA cryptosystem, the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, Elliptic Curve Cryptography, and various methods of breaking these encryptions. All of these topics draw from previous knowledge in abstract algebra, analysis, geometry, and number theory. Computer algebra systems also are used to illustrate the applications. Prerequisite(s): MATH 301 and 309. Instructor permission is required.
Tentatively scheduled: TR 9:30-10:50am

MATH 495E. Networks (Professor Jayawant)
A variety of networks such as social networks of people in a community, neural networks of organisms, and the network of webpages in the World Wide Web can be represented using graphs from the field of graph theory. A graph is a collection of nodes in which certain pairs of nodes are joined by edges between them. Graph theory provides a framework for the study of properties of networks. After a basic introduction to graph theory, students choose a network or particular properties shared by different types of networks to study further through readings from books and research papers. Prerequisites(s): MATH 301
Tentatively scheduled: MW 2:40-4:00pm