A professor holds a geometric model above her head. The blackboard behind her is covered in equations.
Program Overview

Mathematics

Explore the art of logic and problem solving.

Professor Susan Jane Colley works in the field of algebraic geometry, especially enumerative geometry and intersection theory.
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Develop a Sought-After Quantitative Skill Set

Oberlin's Mathematics program nourishes curious minds interested in applying creative and collaborative problem solving to a world of ideas, puzzles, and proofs. We also develop a quantitative toolbox and critical frame of mind, preparing students for careers in a range of fields, from economics and computer science to data analytics and statistical modeling. Many of our graduates pursue advanced degrees in mathematics and related fields, even becoming professors themselves. Still others immediately find jobs in quantitative fields. For example, recent graduates have become economic analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank, software engineers at Google, and high school math teachers.

A Collaborative Learning Community

Mathematics is a collaborative field. Most papers are co-authored and discoveries made in teams. Cooperating on problem sets is standard, and we even have some group office hours to help you meet new students to collaborate with. We also support a feeling of community by getting students and faculty together informally, for weekly teas, monthly pizza lunches (with a fun talk at the end!), and yearly Pi Day celebrations. Each year, several fourth-years will collaborate one-on-one with a faculty member for an Honors Project.

> 12 large pizzas as students and faculty come together for our monthly pizza lunch talks
Over 60% of math majors also have a second major, many in a related quantitative field

Featured Courses

FYSP 028

Cryptography

Explore the science of making and breaking secret codes. We start with codes that Julius Caesar would have used in his armies. To make more sophisticated codes, we need to learn about a branch of mathematics called number theory. These tools will help us understand the modern cryptosystems (like RSA) that the internet is built on.

Taught by
Benjamin Linowitz
MATH 220

Discrete Mathematics

Mathematics is a language, and this class teaches you to “speak math.” We introduce topics you will not have seen in calculus (such as logic, sets, induction, number theory, combinatorics, graph theory) and emphasize creative problem solving and proof writing. At the end, you will be prepared to tackle many of our upper level offerings.

Taught by
Jack Calcut
MATH 335

Probability

Dealing with uncertainty is critical in many applications of mathematics. For example, it is important in machine learning, statistical modeling, economics, actuarial science, and physics. This class uses the tools you’ve learned in 200 level classes to give uncertainty and probability a firm mathematical foundation, ready to be applied to other fields.

Taught by
Elizabeth Wilmer
MATH 357

Harmonic Analysis

Ever since the imperfections of Pythagorean tuning gave evidence for the existence of irrational numbers, music has inspired important developments in mathematics. We start with these classical results and work our way towards modern methods like the Fourier transform, with its applications to acoustics.

Taught by
Chris Marx

Student Profiles

Particle Systems as Epidemics

Garrett Robins '21, a Mathematics major, has been researching the behavior of particle systems to model the diffusion of disease and opinion.

Garrett Robins

The Future of Sustainable Buildings

At Oberlin Grant Sheely ’19, a math and physics double major, was captain of the cross country and track and field programs. He now works as a sustainability coordinator at Vornado Real Estate Trust in New York City.

Grant Sheely

National Science Research Fellow

Alongside Professor Susan Jane Colley, Margaret Nichols '13 did senior honors work as a mathematics major. With the support of a fellowship from the National Science Foundation, she went on to pursue a PhD in math at the University of Chicago.

Margaret Nichols

What does mathematics at Oberlin look like?

Professor Bosch

Professor Bob Bosch explaining his research at the intersection of mathematical optimization and art.

Photo credit: Dale Preston
Professor Wilmer

Professor Elizabeth Wilmer helping students with a homework problem in King 203, our library and math major lounge.

Photo credit: Yvette Chen
Students mingle and eat pie.

Students celebrating Pi Day. With homemade pies!

Photo credit: Jeong Hyun Hwang
A Zoom screen with 4 participants who are raising their arms at particular angles.

Four Oberlin students making an "N" after virtually attending the "N"ebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.

Photo credit: Emily Cairncross, Kayri Craig, Akira Di Sandro, and Alexandra Du

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.


Beautiful trees and landscaping outside the King Building.