Mathematics Senior Thesis

Meeting Times

We meet on Tuesdays at 11:00 AM.

A Mandelbrot set. (Steve Hass, HMC Math 2004; image by Brian Roney)

A Mandelbrot set. (Steve Hass, HMC Math 2004; image by Brian Roney)

Why Take Senior Thesis?

A full year of either Senior Thesis (Math 197) or Mathematics Clinic (Math 193) is required for the mathematics major.

Senior thesis offers the student, guided by the faculty advisor, a chance to experience a taste of the life of a professional research mathematician. The work is largely independent with guidance from the research advisor. In contrast, the Mathematics Clinic Program is designed to offer students the opportunity to develop the modeling and analysis tools necessary to solve applied problems under conditions closely approximated to an industrial setting. Students work in groups under the guidance of a faculty advisor and an industrial liaison.

A thin drop deformed under windshear. (Ben Bryant, HMC Math 2003)

A thin drop deformed under windshear. (Ben Bryant, HMC Math 2003)

Junior math majors are encouraged to talk to later-year students and their faculty advisors to determine which program will best suit their needs. Students should also look through some past senior theses and Clinic projects; these are archived on the math department’s website.

Sounds Great! How Do I Sign Up?

Juniors thinking about writing a thesis should go to the Senior Capstone Experience wiki and look at faculty research areas to choose possible advisors for a thesis project.

You’ll get a copy of the Senior Capstone preference/application form from the faculty, or it may be linked to on the wiki—fill it in and submit it to the department for review.

But I’m Studying Abroad or On Leave!

If you’re studying abroad or you’re on leave during the last semester of your junior year, contact the Thesis Coordinator, Lisette de Pillis, or the Clinic Director, Weiqing Gu, for advice.

Choosing Your Thesis Project

We recommend that once you have some prospective faculty advisors, you discuss your ideas with them sometime during the spring of your junior year. Your discussion should help you choose a project that interests you and is also doable in a year.

Advisors and Second Readers

Each thesis student has an advisor and a second reader. Your advisor need not be from the math department; they could be from another HMC department, or even another Claremont college. However, if your advisor is not from the HMC math department, you should choose a second reader who is affiliated with the department.

The Chavin Prize

Students who write a senior thesis (or another mathematical paper) are eligible to receive the Chavin Prize.

Information about other awards and prizes awarded by the department can be found on the Departmental Awards and Prizes page.