MATH 494 Senior Mathematics Seminar (3)

Catalog Description:

Senior capstone course emphasizing independent research, professional development, contributions of mathematics to culture, and discipline specific issues of Christian Faith and vocation. (Offered spring semester only.)


Offered to Senior Mathematics majors only.

Required Course Materials:

Morris Kline, Mathematics in Western Culture, Oxford University Press, 1972 (ISBN: 9780195007145)
Tom Siegfried, A Beautiful Math, 1st edition, Joseph Henry Press, 2006 (ISBN: 9780309101929)


Course Coordinator:

Lamarr C. Widmer, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics

Course Audience:

Mathematics majors

Course Objectives:


This course is meant to be a ‘capstone’ course, in which we will discuss issues in various branches of mathematics, the history of mathematics, mathematics and the Christian faith, and career planning. You will also learn to do independent research in the field of mathematics, and to present this research to an audience of your peers.

  1. To develop skill in communicating mathematics through writing and oral presentations.
  2. To reflect and reach an opinion on the philosophical questions which are part of mathematics.
  3. To search for and share the overall beauty of mathematics.
  4. To study mathematics in a seminar format where one is free to choose and pursue various topics.
  5. To become familiar with the major professional organizations.
  6. To be knowledgeable of recent mathematical developments.
  7. To attend at least one professional mathematical presentation or meeting.


  1. We will spend time in class discussing significant branches of mathematics, including: calculus, number theory, probability, geometry, abstract algebra, and analysis.
  2. At the end of the course, students will take the ETS Major Field Test in Mathematics as a means of assessment of their undergraduate mathematics program.
  3. During at least one class period, we will discuss career options for mathematics majors. One of the requirements for the course is that you prepare a professional resume. In class, we will discuss different aspects of professional involvement, including presentations at professional meetings, journal publications, and service to the academic community.
  4. Senior Project: The largest assignment of the course is the Senior Project; a 15-20 page paper which should explore a particular problem or issue in mathematics, including the history and significant results related to the topic as well as your own mathematical contribution. Possible topics will be distributed and discussed in class. We will work on this project throughout the course, and there will be deadlines throughout the semester for your topic choice, project outline, 1st and 2nd drafts, a project announcement, and your final paper. Drafts of your project will be read by the professor and at least one peer. The final part of the project is an oral presentation of your paper, to an audience of your classmates and others in the department. This presentation should be a 20 minute summary of the highlights of your paper; you should not plan to simply read the paper to the audience!



Reviewed May 2012; Revised February 2011

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