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Welcome to the MIT Mathematics Department!

As the current interim department head, I join with my colleagues in welcoming you to one of the top-ranked mathematics departments in the U.S.— a world center in Pure and Applied Mathematics. The broad range of mathematical disciplines we cover include algebra, geometry and topology, number theory, analysis, probability theory, combinatorics, physical applied mathematics, computational sciences, computational biology, and theoretical computer science. Our department currently appoints approximately 50 faculty, 60 postdocs instructors, and 25 visiting scholars and research affiliates. Our faculty have earned many awards, including the Abel Prize, National Medal of Science, Simons Investigator award, Packard Fellowship, Steele Prize, and Veblen Prize, to name a few.

I invite you to explore our website, where you will find the latest news, upcoming events, listings of weekly seminars, information about our annual Simons lectures whose next edition will be given in Spring 2018 by Sylvia Serfati and Stephen Boyd, etc. It features sections on our programs for graduates, undergraduates, and various outreach programs for high school students and under-represented minorities. You’ll find also a section on MIT women in mathematics, and our commitment and efforts on diversity. You can also find there back issues of our newsletter, Integral.

In January 2016, we moved back into building 2, now named the Simons Building, after an extensive, LEED-certified modern renovation of this historic century-old structure. The project led by Ann Beha Architects received the 2016 Merit Award of the Society for College and University Planning, and the Preservation Award of the Cambridge Historical Commission. We invite you to explore the Simons building when on campus, or please enjoy photos of the new space. Here you will discover many shared spaces for student-faculty collaboration and just taking a break with colleagues; a luxurious common room for afternoon tea and cookies; a roofdeck terrace on our new fourth floor for outdoor meetings and a view of the Charles River; and an intriguing floor-to-ceiling sculpture called Chord, by Antony Gormley.

Education is an integral part of the mission of our department. We teach a variety of classes, both service classes to the Institute since mathematics has always been at the core of MIT, and more specialized math classes. We are developing several online courses in calculus and differential equations through EdX. Our undergraduate program comes in several flavors and is pursued by almost 400 students, either as a first or second major, to enhance their future in whatever they undertake. We are proud that MIT undergraduates make up the highest number of participants and top scorers of any institution in the annual Putnam Mathematical Competition. Our doctoral program consists of about 120 doctoral students, many of whom are multi-talented as can be seen by browsing our news archive.

Undergraduates have several opportunities to participate in mathematical research and directed reading, under the guidance of graduate students and faculty. For example, SPUR (Summer Program in Undergraduate Research) is open to all MIT undergraduates, not just math majors. Up to 11 undergraduates are supported each summer, the majority in the summer after their first or second year at MIT. SPUR is often their first taste of mathematical research. We have a new program now, SPUR+, for young women and students of color. We have other opportunities as well for undergraduates.

High school math students interested in mathematics can undertake research projects during the academic year as well as the summer, such as RSI—Research Science Institute; and PRIMES—Program for Research In Mathematics, Engineering, and Science. Some of our programs like Mathroots and PRIMES circle are designed to increase diversity. Since 2011, MIT has hosted the Advantage Testing Foundation’s Math Prize for Girls, for high school students competing from across the nation. Locally, our members mentor at Girls’ Angle, a math club for girls in grades 5-12.

This is a sample of what we do. I invite you to learn more about the mathematical world as it thrives at MIT.

Michel X. Goemans
Mathematics Department Head