If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics.
Since antiquity, mathematics has been a cornerstone of the liberal arts. It serves as a model of clear reasoning and expression of thought, and its focus on the study of patterns and structures ensures its continued wide-ranging relevance.
Mathematics is the scaffolding of the physical sciences and has exciting new applications in areas such as information science, network theory, cryptography, biology, and theoretical and applied economics. Meanwhile, tools are being developed to solve some of the great long-standing problems of pure mathematics.
There are several paths through mathematics at Reed College. In addition to the major in pure mathematics, we have concentrations in computer science and in statistics. There are standing interdisciplinary majors in mathematics-physics and mathematics-economics, and recently, students have designed ad-hoc interdisciplinary majors such as mathematics-biology and mathematics-anthropology.
The mathematics department has a strong record of placing its graduates in highly selective Ph.D. programs in pure and applied mathematics, computer science and engineering, statistics and biostatistics, and related fields such as physics and economics. Graduates have also entered professional careers such as finance, law, medicine, and architecture.
The department maintains a dedicated computer laboratory for majors. Mathematics majors have the opportunity to conduct summer research projects with faculty, attend conferences and present papers, and participate in Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. Many students from the department have enrolled in the Budapest Semester in Mathematics and AIT programs in Hungary or the Mathematics in Moscow program in Russia.