Daniel Bump

Algebra and number theory.

James D. Fix

Computer science.

Albyn Jones


David Perkinson

Algebraic geometry.

James Pommersheim

Algebraic geometry, number theory, and quantum computation. On sabbatical and leave 2007-08.

V. Rao Potluri


Joe Roberts

Number theory and combinatorics.

Jerry Shurman

Number theory and complex analysis.

Irena Swanson

Commutative algebra.

Thomas W. Wieting

Differential geometry and ergodic theory.

The mathematics curriculum emphasizes solving problems by rigorous methods that use both calculation and structure. Starting from the freshman year, students discuss the subject intensely with one another outside the classroom and learn to write lucid arguments.

The major is grounded in analysis and algebra through the four years of study. A student typically will also take upper-division courses in areas such as computer science, probability and statistics, combinatorics, and the topics of the senior-level courses that change from year to year. In particular, the department offers a range of upper-division computer science offerings, while recent topics courses have covered elliptic curves, polytopes, modular forms, Lie groups, representation theory, and hyperbolic geometry. A year of physics is required for the degree. The year-long senior thesis involves working closely with a faculty member on a topic of the student’s choice.

The department has a dedicated computer laboratory for majors. Mathematics majors sometimes conduct summer research projects with the faculty, attend conferences, and present papers, but it is more common to participate in a Research Experience in Mathematics (REU) program elsewhere to broaden experience. Many students from the department have enrolled in the Budapest Semester in Mathematics program to study in Hungary.

Graduates from the mathematics department have completed 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.

First-year students who plan to take a full year of mathematics can select among Calculus (Mathematics 111), Introduction to Analysis (Mathematics 112), Introduction to Computing (Mathematics 121), Introduction to Number Theory (Mathematics 131), or Introduction to Probability and Statistics (Mathematics 141). Calculus, Computing and Number Theory are offered only in the fall, while Analysis is offered in the spring, and Probability and Statistics is offered both semesters. The prerequisite for all of these courses except Analysis is three years of high school mathematics. The prerequisite for Analysis is a solid background in calculus, usually the course at Reed or a year of high school calculus with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP exam. Students who intend to go beyond the first-year classes should consult with their adviser. In all cases it is recommended to consult a member of the mathematics department to help determine a program.

The mathematics department’s web page can be found at

Requirements for the Major

  1. Mathematics 111, 112, 211, and 212.
  2. Mathematics 321, 331, and 332.
  3. Four additional units in mathematics courses numbered higher than 300 (excluding Mathematics 470).
  4. Physics 100 or the equivalent.
  5. Mathematics 470. 

Mathematics Course Descriptions

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