Mathematics Department - News from the Rutgers NB Math UG Program Fall 2008

News from the Undergraduate Program Fall 2008
(Gregory Cherlin, Undergraduate Vice-Chair)

Mathematics Undergraduate Program

Exit Survey

Since Spring 2007 we have had an online "exit survey" which we ask our graduating seniors to fill out. This is found at This provides useful feedback to the department which we use for program evaluation and curriculum development. At this time we do not have a separate survey for alumni from earlier years, but they are welcome to use the same form to make comments on the program or their later experience; it would be helpful to have the year of graduation included as a comment.

New Courses

Our newest course, under development by Professor Goldstein, is a course on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics being offered in Fall 2008 under our topics number, Math 395. This course is intended to be interdisciplinary and is directed at Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy majors with an interest in the rigorous foundations of quantum mechanics and the mathematics on which that depends.

Our undergraduate course on Mathematical Finance has now been officially added to the course catalog with the number 485. This fall it is offered by Professor Jesus Rodriguez. This course presents the mathematical theory and financial concepts used to model and analyze financial derivatives, and is suitable for majors in Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, or Engineering who have studied the theory of probability. It is a popular course which tends to fill up quickly during registration.

The department continues to develop courses suitable for undergraduates interested in careers in teaching at the K-8 level. We expect to offer five such courses at the 100 level. In addition to our established 107 (Number Systems) and 103 (Math for Liberal Arts), Professor Cohen is teaching a course on Geometry for Elementary Teachers this fall (Math 197) and Professor Rosenstein will teach Problem Solving and Reasoning with Discrete Mathematics in spring 2009 (Math 198). These course numbers are temporary and will be changed when the courses are added to the catalog. Our fifth course will be based on our Math 104, Elementary Combinatorics and Probability, with a new syllabus developed by Michael Weingart. At this time we recommend that students who wish to take Math 104 take Math 103 first, though this is not a prerequisite.

For students in the 5-year Math/Education program, we will again offer our Connections Seminar in Spring 2009 (Math 495). This course, developed by Amy Cohen and Keith Weber, and taught in Spring 2008 by Professor V. Retakh, is normally taken in the fifth year of that program. It explores the connection between the material studied in upper level mathematics courses and the needs of high school mathematics teachers.

In our Honors Calculus sequence, we have put in an extra section of first semester honors calculus (Math 151, Section H2) for entering students in the SAS General Honors Program who are taking Math 151 in the fall.

See also:

Corporate Computing Day

On Thursday, September 25, 2008, Rutgers is hosting a Corporate Computing day which will provide an opportunity for both undergraduates and graduate students involved in research to present their work in poster format and to meet with representatives of corporations looking to hire in areas involving computation. Further information may be found at The event will run from 12:00 to 4:30 P.M. in the Busch Campus Student Center, beginning with a Keynote Address by Dr. Randal Pinkett, Rutgers University Alumnus, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, and winner of NBC's "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump.

Honors and Prizes

  • Weill Scholarships for full time students majoring in mathematics, based on academic merit

    Wei Chen Jeremy Engel Jack Hanson Hanna Komlós Tim (Hou Keong) Lou
    Christopher Sadowski Matthew Samuel Joseph Shao Christopher Skalit

  • The Kenneth and Rosalind Wolfson Annual Award for Academic Excellence in Mathematics
  • Hanna Komlós

  • The Bogart Prize for outstanding overall achievement as a mathematics major
  • Wei Chen

  • The Bradley Memorial Prize for best overall performance on a prize exam
  • Jeremy Engel

  • The Lawrence Corwin Memorial Math Prize for a University College Graduating Senior mathematics major with outstanding performance in upper level mathematics courses
  • Matthew Samuel

  • The Lawrence Corwin Prize in Mathematics for superior performance on a prize examination
  • Joseph Shao

  • The Richard Morris Award for a Douglass College Graduating Senior mathematics major with an outstanding performance in upper level mathematics courses
  • Islah Nuriddin

  • The Hannah Hoyt Prize for a Douglass senior who has excelled in mathematics
  • Islah Nuriddin

  • The Tilla Weinstein Award for exceptional achievement in mathematics
  • Emily Sergel

  • Graduation with Honors

    • Highest honors: Jeremy Engel, Hanna Komlós, Matthew Samuel
    • High honors: Jack Hanson, Christopher Sadowski
    • Honors: Jessica Chen, David Infortunio

  • Putnam Competition Results

    In recent years several Rutgers students have performed exceptionally well in this U.S.-Canadian competition held every December. In 2008 the Rutgers team of Gene Kim and Wei Chen ranked 36th among approximately 400 entering teams. Results.

  • Garden State Undergraduate Mathematics Conference

    Rutgers sent seven students to this annual event in March, 2008. The conference includes a competition, for which the seven divided into three teams. The team of Matthew Samuel, Emily Sergel, and Joseph Shao won the team title, and the other two teams tied for thirteenth place. (Princeton finished second.) Second-year student Joseph Shao was the highest ranking individual. Congratulations!

Careers & Ideas Talks

The department offered three special lectures and a panel discussion in its Careers & Ideas series last year. Professor Jesus Rodriguez, who has been teaching our Mathematical Finance course, spoke on The Mathematics of Chance: A brief history of Gambling from Monte Carol to Wall Street, Prof. John Kolassa spoke on applications of the statistical discipline of survival analysis in The Consulting Sandwich, and Professor Vogelius spoke on the mathematics behind "cloaks of invisibility" which have been in the technology news lately. Our panel on Becoming an Actuary drew an overflow crowd which we finally squeezed into the 7th floor Colloquium room. Four working actuaries discussed working in the profession, how to prepare for it, summer internships, etc., in what developed into a lively discussion and question-and-answer period. All of this plus free pizza.

The Directed Reading Program

The Directed Reading Program is a program in which undergraduate students are paired with graduate student mentors for semester-long independent study projects. The program is modeled after the Directed Reading Program at the University of Chicago. It runs each semester and during the summer.

Administrative Matters

Special Permissions Forms

Several of our special permissions forms are now available on-line at Application for closed sections in Fall/Spring terms still requires use of the on-line system during the first week of classes (for more on that system, see our FAQ). The on-line forms may be used for honors courses, independent study, the freshman/sophomore seminar, summer session courses, or for students wishing to take undergraduate courses who are not pursuing an undergraduate degree (graduate students or non-matriculated undergraduates).

Getting information

On the web: we have a lot of information online, linked to the following web page:
In addition to the teaching schedule, course materials page, textbook list, and drop-in advising schedule, we have an "FAQ" which contains technical information about prerequisite overrides, special permission, placement codes, retaking courses, and similar issues. We can easily add more information to this FAQ, and suggestions for points to be addressed may be sent to the Head Advisor.

By email: See the contact list below for email addresses. Unless you already have a specific contact for your question, please address it as follows:

  • Courses about Basic Skills or Precalculus (025, 026, 027, 111, 112, 115) may be directed to our Director of Basic Skills
  • Questions about our courses above the level of precalculus, the Math major and minor, or the Biomath major go to the Head Advisor. This includes requests for transfer evaluation, if it is possible to give full information by email; otherwise, please drop off your materials at the Undergraduate Office for review.
  • Other questions about the Mathematics program may be sent to our Administrative Assistant, Maureen Clausen.
  • Questions concerning computer science or statistics courses go to those departments.

By phone: Call the office at 732 445-2390. During peak periods email is preferred as we can respond more thoroughly that way.

In person: The Head Advisor has posted drop-in hours, and the Undergraduate Office is open 8:30-4:30, Monday through Friday.


These are some of the faculty and staff working with the undergraduate program, together with their email addresses (all addresses are ""):

  • Undergraduate Vice Chair: Gregory Cherlin (ugvc)
  • Administrative Assistant: Maureen Clausen (mclausen)
  • Head of the Honors Track in Mathematics: Simon Thomas (sthomas).
  • Head Advisor: Richard Bumby (advisor).
  • Actuarial Advisor: Daniel Ocone (ocone)
  • Director of Basic Skills and Precalculus Instruction: Lew Hirsch (hirsch)

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