216 Kerchof Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400137
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4137
(434) 924-4919 Fax: (434) 982-3084
Overview In a world of increasing technological complexity, knowledge of mathematics is the gateway to the pursuit of many fields. Mathematics has long been the language of choice for expressing complex relationships and describing complicated patterns and processes. It is now true that many fields, in addition to mathematics and the sciences, rely on this in a fundamental way.
What was formerly “abstract” mathematics to many has become the concrete stuff of everyday life. “The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” manifests itself today in such familiar things as CAT and MRI scans, compact discs, satellite communications, and computer animation. These were all rendered possible by new discoveries made by mathematicians within the last fifty years. Even the efficient operation of our financial markets is based, in part, on relatively recent theorems of mathematical analysis and probability theory.
Mathematics research today is a vibrant and dynamic enterprise. Thousands of mathematicians worldwide are at work on an unimaginably broad range of questions. Exciting recent advances include the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, the classification of the finite simple groups, the proof of the Bieberbach conjecture, and the computer-assisted proof of the four-color theorem. The discipline and creativity required by the study of mathematics can be a formidable preparation for later life. Past students of mathematics have had successful careers in almost every sphere, including all the professions. The scope of mathematics courses offered at the University of Virginia allows majors to tailor their own programs. Students electing to major in mathematics should consult carefully with a faculty advisor to ensure the selection of a program of courses that provides a solid grounding in the fundamentals of higher mathematics and is appropriate to future goals.
Faculty The faculty of the Department of Mathematics is committed to excellence in teaching and research. Its members carry out high-level research on diverse problems in algebra, analysis, topology, probability, and statistics, mathematical physics, and the history of the discipline. Their research has been widely published in prestigious research journals and is recognized internationally. Members of the department have won Sloan fellowships, Humboldt fellowships, and other scholarly honors, as well as numerous research grants. Many are currently supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies. Most have held visiting professorships abroad. In addition, the department offerings and ambiance are enhanced each year by the presence of several internationally recognized visiting faculty.
Students There are currently about 100 students majoring in mathematics. Class sizes vary from a few large introductory classes to an average class size of twenty students for upper-level courses. This small class size affords students the opportunity to get individual attention.
Students who graduate with degrees in mathematics successfully pursue a variety of different careers. Many go directly into jobs in industry, insurance (as actuaries), government, finance, and other fields. Employers in the past have included Morgan Stanley, General Motors, MITRE Corp., the Census Bureau, the National Security Agency, and various consulting firms. Many find themselves well equipped to go on to professional schools in law, medicine, and business. Some go directly into teaching. Others have gone on to graduate programs in mathematics, applied mathematics, statistics, engineering, systems engineering, economics, and computer science. Students who have combined the mathematics major with courses in computer programming, economics, and business have done exceptionally well in the job market.