Senior Seminar Information (Class of 2020)

For the 2019-2020 academic year, the senior seminar topics are Numerical Linear Algebra and The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra.

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 NOON on the last day of classes of the winter semester of the junior year. Some details:

  1. 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.

2. As a hypothetical example, here is a sample completed proposal in PDF formatas 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 noon on the due date, the completed proposal is to be emailed as a PDF document to two people: Deb Cutten (, Academic Administrative Assistant for Hathorn Hall, and Adriana Salerno (, Chair of the Mathematics Department.
    • 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 2020 senior seminars are below.


MATH 495C. Numerical Linear Algebra (Professor Boateng) This course is an introduction to numerical linear algebra, which is fundamental to scientific computing. Through guided and self-directed explorations, students examine direct and iterative solutions for linear systems problems including computation of eigenvalues and eigenvectors. The course focuses on both theoretical study of convergence of the numerical methods and practical implementations of these methods. Prerequisite(s): MATH 301. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission is required. Tentatively scheduled: TR 1:00-2:30pm


MATH 495L. The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra (Professor Wong) Over the centuries, there have been numerous proofs of the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra (FTA), which asserts that every polynomial of degree n must have at most n distinct roots over the complex numbers. The great German mathematician Carl F. Gauss (1777-1855) published no fewer than four different proofs of the result. While the name of the theorem foregrounds algebra, none of the known proofs is purely algebraic. Over the centuries, techniques from complex analysis, topology, and field extensions have been employed to give new proofs of the FTA. In this seminar, students explore some of these proofs where the methods are drawn from various subfields in mathematics. Prerequisite(s): MATH 309. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission is required.
Tentatively scheduled: TR 8:00-9:20am