Department of Mathematics at Illinois State University

How to Apply

Students interested in applying and are not currently ISU students should go the the website http://admissions.illinoisstate.edu/ to apply.

Current ISU students wishing to change majors should apply through iCampus.

For more information, see the web sites www.ilstu.edu and www.math.ilstu.edu.

Mathematics

Overview

Mathematics is a discipline that is both broad in its many areas of study and its applications as well as fascinating in the types of questions that are asked about these areas. (See the Mathematical Moments page of the American Mathematical Society for a number of recent applications.) As our society becomes more quantitative, more and more disciplines are using mathematics more intensively. For example, the National Academy of Sciences now considers even biology a mathematically intensive discipline. As such, the demand for people trained in mathematically intensive disciplines is expected to continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Many high school students are only exposed to a small portion of the world of mathematics, with the most advanced mathematics they see being the calculus. (For other areas of mathematics, see for example The Mathematical Atlas Introduction.) The calculus is indeed where the study of mathematics begins for most mathematics majors at ISU as well as in most colleges and universities. Yet the calculus, which is foundational to a lot of mathematics, can also give a misleading picture of what mathematics is about and the developments in mathematics after the 18th century. (For a history of mathematics, see MacTutor History of Mathematics Overview.)

Relationships and Patterns

Mathematics has developed into the study of relationships and patterns that appear in real world applications as well as in the mathematics developed from these applications.

One can use mathematics to solve real world problems or one could use mathematics to study mathematical constructs that don’t appear to have any applications, but are rather interesting puzzles to be studied or solved.

Even these areas of mathematics that don’t appear to have areas of applications will later find uses that many mathematicians had not thought of while studying these areas. For example, the “unbreakable codes” that are now being used as a form of encryption for the internet or on cell phones are just applications of algebraic number theory. These codes are “unbreakable” due to our inability to quickly factor an integer into its prime factors, especially when the prime factors involved have around twenty digits or more.

Foundation and Flexibility

At ISU, the mathematics sequence in the mathematics major first provides students with a strong foundation in mathematics and then gives students the flexibility to explore various aspects of the discipline.

There is also the flexibility within the mathematics major for a student to pursue a minor in a related field of study. Such a program can prepare students for jobs in industry and government as well as prepare students for graduate study in mathematics.

Our Faculty

Our faculty are not only concerned and knowledgeable teachers, but they are also active researchers who have the ability to bring their experiences into the classroom and open the doors of their discipline to their students. Although our faculty have a wide variety of interests, our faculty have particular interests in graph theory (which is considered a branch of combinatorics) and in functional analysis and differential topology (which is a subfield of manifolds (generalized differentiable surfaces)) as it relates to quantum field theories, in addition to our faculty with interests in statistics, mathematics education, and actuarial science.

The ISU Mathematics Department also offers a masters degree in mathematics for those who wish to pursue further study in these areas.