Undergraduate Honors in Mathematics

The purpose of the mathematics honors program is to provide opportunity and assistance to talented undergraduate students hoping to take Latin honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) in mathematics.

The School of Mathematics offers a number of honors courses. The following gives a brief description of the honors courses offered by the School of Mathematics.

For students desiring further information concerning the math honors program please contact Professor Sperber (sperber@math.umn.edu)

Honors Courses

MATH 1571/1572 - Honors Calculus I/II

This is the introductory honors calculus sequence. It begins with a discussion of functions, limits and continuity. The course then proceeds to the main topics of differentiation and integration of functions of a single real variable. One then studies the properties of these key operations including the chain rule, the fundamental theorem of calculus and methods of integration. Applications from the physical and biological sciences are emphasized. Applications include max-min problems, related rates, arc length, volumes and surface area of solids of revolution. Sequences and series are also studied. The course strives to provide an introduction to the mathematical method of proof and to mathematical rigor.

MATH 2573/2574 - Honors Calculus III/IV

This course is a two semester course covering multivariable calculus, including differentiation of functions of several variables, multiple integration, discussion of chain rule, inverse function theorem, implicit function theorem, multiple integration, Fubini’s theorem. Applications include max-min problems using Lagrange multipliers, volume and surface area. The course also treats vector calculus, vector fields, div, curl, grad, Green’s theorem, Stokes’ theorem and Gauss’ theorem. The course also covers linear algebra, including the study of eigenvalues and eigenvectors, and the application to diagonalization of suitable linear transformations. The course also provides an introduction to ordinary differential equations, particularly first-order equations, constant-coefficient linear equations, variation of parameters, first-order systems, Laplace transforms. Applications from the physical sciences will be emphasized.

MATH 3592/3593 - Honors Mathematics I/II

This course is an honors course designed for students who are interested in pursuing mathematics beyond basic calculus, or are interested in why theorems hold and wish to understand the mathematical reasoning underlying mathematical results, or who enjoy doing mathematics for its own sake. As such the course will help prepare students for advanced undergraduate courses and graduate courses in math. The course emphasizes mathematical proof and rigor. It is a 5 credit course and is more demanding than 2573-4, although both courses have a large overlap in content. While this course covers in depth the topics of multivariable calculus and linear algebra and vector calculus, it does not cover in any detail the introduction to ordinary differential equations. It is recommended that students needing or desiring this subject take an additional course (several excellent courses in ordinary differential equations are offered at the 5000 level). Some topics covered in 3592-3, not covered in 2573-4, include greater attention to n-variable cases (n greater than 3), manifolds, the spectral theorem for real symmetric matrices and applications to classification of real quadratic forms, applications to max-min-saddlepoint classification of critical points, differential forms on manifolds and exterior differentiation, integration on manifolds, generalized Stokes’ theorem.

MATH 5285/5286 - Honors: Fundamental Structures of Algebra I/II

This course introduces the study of basic algebraic structures, subobjects, quotient objects, and maps between objects. In particular, groups, rings, mudules, fields are treated. Some topics covered are the Sylow theorems, factorizations in integral domains, principal ideal domains, unique factorization domains, chain conditions in commutative rings, structure theorem for finitely generated modules over a pid, applications to linear algebra (Jordan normal form), finite fields, elementary Galois theory.

MATH 5615/5616 - Honors: Introduction to Analysis I/II

This course gives a rigorous treatment of basic analysis. It covers metric spaces, convergence, connectedness, compactness, uniform convergence of sequences and series of functions in one and several variables. Stone-Weierstrass theorem. Rigorous development of differentiation and Riemann-Stieltjes integration. Taylor’s theorem. Implicit function theorem. Stokes’ theorem

Senior Honors Thesis

One of the requirements for students to graduate with Latin honors in mathematics is that they complete an honors thesis under the supervision of a faculty member, write up their work and give a short presentation of their work. Normally the student contacts a faculty member who works in an area of interest and that faculty member, if willing, will suggest a topic of study or in some cases of research which is suitable.

The following is a list of recent senior honors theses and the faculty advisors. These theses are kept in a volume in the mathematics undergraduate office in 115 Vincent Hall. You are invited to view them if you are contemplating doing an honors thesis.


Student Thesis Advisor
Benjamin Bachmeier "Modeling the Effects of Sea Ice on Phytoplankton Growth Dynamics" R.McGehee
Ana Liard-Blanco "Bernstein-Sato Polynomials" E.Witt
Haojun Caoxu "Reimann's 1859 Paper and the History of Complex Analysis" P.Garrett
Jason Checky "Branching Processes adn Cell Populations" J.Baxter
Andrew Dean "An Information Theoretic Study of Rhythmic Variations of Poetic Accents in Hip-Hop" D.Clark
Thomas Edwards "Discontinuous Galerkin Methods for Ordinary Differential Equations" B.Cockburn
Yifan Feng "Effect of Dynamic Pricing on Inventory Costs: A Mathematical Model" J.Baxter
Robin Heinonen "Contractions of Superintegrable Darboux Systems" W.Miller Jr.
Amber Hill "Linear Programming and Its Economic Applications" G.Anderson
John Karlen "Fermat's Principle and Its Applications" V.Sverak
Ryan Lee "Applications of Entropy Rates to Relative Poverty as a Measure of Longitudinal Economic Mobility" A.Scheel
Jiacheng Liao "A Study on Hidden Markov Model and Its Application" J.Baxter
Alexandra Nelson "Use of Color Exchange to Classify Regular Graphs of Order 12 by Power Sequence" J.Butterfield
Eric Seifert "An Expository of Elliptic Curve Cryptography" J.Butterfiels
Haiyun Zhao "Matrix Nearness Problems with Indefinite Lorentz Metric" W.Miller Jr.


Student Thesis Advisor
Gong Chen "Vibrations of Suspended Chains" V.Sverak
Jean Costello "Proof of the AKS Primality Test" D.Stanton
Xavier Garcia "Pathological Billiards" R.Moeckel
Kelsey Gladen "Markov Chain Monte Carlo and Its Applications" J.Baxter
Matthew Howard "Chance Operations in Musical Compositions" L.Gray
John Kilgore "Exotic 4-Manifolds" A.Akhmedov
Matthew Larionov "Finite Model Theory and Logics for PTIME" W.Richter
Tyler Maunu "A Robust PCA Framework with Randomized Singular Value Decompositions" G.Lerman
Aaron Schneberger "Critical Groups of Certain Graphs and their Cryptographic Implementation" G.Musiker
Benjamin Tolzmann "Advanced Statistics and Prediction in American Professional Sports" A.Odlyzko
Thomas Vandenboom "Light-wave Localization Phenomena in Layered Dielectric Media" F.Santosa

See the complete list of available available Senior Theses.

Information for students considering graduate study in mathematics

There is information at the following links for students considering graduate study in mathematics: