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The Department of Mathematics and Physics offers BA- and BS-degree programs in mathematics as well as minors in mathematics and applied physics. In addition, there are several courses in mathematics and physics designed for students having to satisfy general-education and/or major requirements. Although some of the lower-level classes may have as many as twenty-five students, the average number of students in mathematics classes is between 15 and 20.
The common objective of the mathematical BA and BS programs at La Roche is to provide students with an introduction to the fundamental areas of mathematics, which are important in both pure mathematics and its many applications. Classes for mathematics majors are invariably small—ordinarily there are fewer than 10 students in upper-level classes. This very small class size along with a teaching-oriented faculty tends to foster an environment in which many students thrive. The mathematical software program Mathematica is integrated into the math-major programs and is available in a couple of computer labs on campus.
What distinguishes the two degree programs is that the BS program requires 7 credits in computer science and 4 additional credits in physics, whereas instead the BA program offers 11 additional general-elective credits.
Thanks to the ample number of electives in both programs, students majoring in mathematics often minor in another field such as computer science or finance. A student in the BA program conceivably could even major in another field.
There is also a 3+2 program which affords the opportunity to obtain in 5 years a BS in mathematics from La Roche and a BSE in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
The gateway to the major consists of a four-semester sequence in calculus, which concludes with a course in ordinary differential equations, and a two-semester sequence in discrete mathematics. The first sequence is enhanced by the integration into it of the mathematical software program Mathematica. The second sequence, which is cross-listed as a computer-science sequence in discrete structures, attests the importance of mathematics in the age of computers. The upper-level courses introduce students to the areas of linear algebra, complex and real analysis, probability and statistics (a two-semester sequence), abstract algebra, geometry and/or topology, and the history of mathematics. There is also an elective in finite mathematics, which treats of areas important in business and financial applications.
For those students not yet ready to enter into the introductory calculus-sequence there are preparatory courses in college algebra, trigonometry, and precalculus.