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Academic Program: Summary of Contents

Math 20: Mathematics and Social Justice

This course examines the roles that mathematics and mathematicians play in society, particularly through the lenses of equity and social justice. Students will explore what it means to practice mathematics ethically and we will discuss mathematical influence in areas such as policing, politics, healthcare, and the military-industrial complex.

Prereqs: Placement out of, or credit for, either Math 15 or Stat  11.

Math 55: Intermediate Topics in Geometry

Knot Theory
Tie a knot in a string then glue the ends together.  Can this knot be untangled without cutting it open? This question and many others relating to these “mathematical knots" have increasingly been studied by mathematicians, with many breakthroughs occurring in the past 20 years.  In this course we will discuss methods of knot tabulation, invariants (properties) of knots such as the bridge-number, surfaces associated to knots, ties to Hyperbolic Geometry, Physics, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and other sciences, as well as open problems in the field.  While our proof-based approach will heavily feature drawing, artistic skill is not a prerequisite.

Prereqs:  Any proof-intensive course (such as Math 28 or Math 29), or permission of the instructor.

Stat 41:  Topics in Applied Statistics: Statistical Graphics & Data Visualization

Graphical displays of information can improve our understanding of both data and statistical models. Data Visualization has become a key component in decision-making about everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to sports analytics to climate change. While these visualizations can help synthesize complex phenomena into a single graph, we have also been inundated with maps, charts, and diagrams that often present conflicting conclusions. Drawing heavily from contemporary examples including the COVID-19 pandemic and recent election results, this course will cover common forms of data visualization and their uses and misuses.

In this course, you will learn how to create, critique, and present graphics in a concise and statistically sound way. Topics include: common data types and visualizations in R; incorporating statistical concepts such as transformations, smoothing, and uncertainty into visualizations; interactive graphics; and non-traditional types of data, which may include time series, maps, networks, or text.

You will leave the course having built a portfolio of static and interactive visualizations, statistical writing, and presentations. This is a project-based course, and you are encouraged to bring additional ideas for datasets and research questions.

Prereq:  Stat 21 or permission of instructor.


Math 53:  Analytic Number Theory of Circle Packings
Spring 2021

Apollonian circle packings have been studied for hundreds of years, but there has been a renaissance of research in the last twenty. In math 53, we’ll use techniques from analysis and algebra to study circle packings. Students in Math 53 will read current mathematics research articles and conduct their own independent research. One research focus will be on power series whose domains of convergence are closely related to Apollonian packings. Students will also learn about other kinds of circle and sphere packings.

Prerequisites: MATH 027 or 028 and MATH 033, 034, or 035; or permission of the instructor. Some experience reading and writing mathematical proofs is strongly recommended.

Math 97: Senior Conference
Spring 2021

This special offering of Math 97 is to accommodate students graduating in 2021 who were on leave in the Fall.  To be eligible to enroll in Math 97 in Spring 2021, a student MUST:  (1) have been on leave during Fall 2020; and (2) plan to graduate in Spring 2021.  No exceptions to this policy will be made.


NOTE: Much of the information on these pages can also be found in the Swarthmore Course Catalog. The catalog takes precedence if there is conflicting information.

  • Major Requirements: A description of the requirements for a regular (non-honors) major in mathematics.
  • Minor Requirements: A description of the requirements for a regular (non-honors) major in mathematics.
  • Honors Program: The honors program is one of the treasures of Swarthmore College and we encourage those students coming in with a strong background in mathematics to give serious consideration to this program. Described here are the requirements for becoming an honors major in mathematics.
  • Teaching Certification: If you are considering becoming a mathematics teacher, here is information on what we require in order for you to earn teaching certification from our department.
  • Courses: A list of the courses we offer. Students also have the opportunity to go beyond these standard offerings through the Senior Conference, through summer research, and sometimes through directed reading courses.
  • Placement Information: Information on how we determine placement and credit for your prior work, including AP exams, college work and the like.
  • Transfer Credit: Information on how we determine credit for courses taken at comparable colleges or universities during the summer or during a semester on leave.
  • Next Two Years [pdf]: This document presents possibilities for a major's or honors major's program for the last two years of study.