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Facts: Department of Mathematics

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Mathematics is a vast and vibrant enterprise with theory at its core. It thrives today on its traditional interaction with the physical sciences and engineering, as well as the more recent connections to computing, information, and communication. It is increasingly inspired by emerging applications in fields as diverse as biology and finance.

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Highlights

Recent faculty honors include the INFORMS Young Research Prize, Itô Prize, Fulkerson Prize, PIMS Education Prize, Solomon Lefschetz Medal, and several Simons Fellowships.

The department’s Math Study Center provides a supportive and active learning environment for precalculus and calculus students. Graduate and advanced undergraduate students help them get unstuck, in a model that has since been adopted elsewhere.

Through the department’s Washington Experimental Mathematics Lab, faculty collaborate with graduate students, undergraduates, and community members on projects that are experimental, computational, and often visual, coming to understand mathematics as a creative discipline.

Department faculty, working with UW students and hundreds of contributors around the world, continue to develop SageMath, an open-source mathematical software project that seamlessly integrates various software packages into a common experience. In 2013, it received the Jenks Prize for Excellence in Software Engineering applied to Computer Algebra.

 

Research

Department faculty do fundamental research in classical fields of mathematics and lead the way in newer areas (see Areas of Research below). In addition to intrinsic mathematical research, they collaborate on interdisciplinary projects with Art + Art History + Design, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, Genome Sciences, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and the Applied Physics Laboratory. Some examples:

  • One faculty member has solved a longstanding open problem in the geometry of Riemannian manifolds, showing that knowledge of the distance function on the boundary determines distance overall. This work, featured in Nature, would allow one in principle to determine what is inside an object — the earth for instance — without destroying it.
     
  • Another recently discovered a formula for counting all tanglegrams of a given size. Tanglegrams are combinatorial objects that arise in subjects as varied as the study of cospeciation in biology and analysis of software projects in computer science.
     
  • In work with chemists at UW and beyond, a faculty member solved a probability problem about crystal deposits on a flat surface, thereby providing the theoretical justification for a procedure that may be used for cancer detection.
     
  • To develop a procedure for packing objects of different weights and sizes into the smallest number of boxes in the fastest time, a suitable algorithm will be slow and inefficient. One of our faculty made a major advance by finding an efficient algorithm producing solutions that, if not optimal, are demonstrably close to optimal ones.

Areas of Research 

  • Algebraic geometry
  • Algebraic topology
  • Combinatorics
  • Complex Analysis
  • Differential geometry
  • Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems
  • Inverse Problems
  • Noncommutative algebra
  • Non-smooth analysis
  • Number theory
  • Numerical analysis
  • Optimization
  • Partial differential equations
  • Probability
  • Representation theory

 

Faculty*

  • 30 Professors
  • 5 Associate Professors
  • 2 Assistant Professors
  • 2 Principal Lecturers
  • 4 Senior Lecturers
  • 3 Lecturers
  • 12 Postdoctoral Scholars

Faculty awards include: 

  • 7 Guggenheim Foundation Fellows
  • 10 Sloan Research Foundation Fellows
  • 8 Simons Foundation Fellows
  • 1 Packard Foundation Fellow
  • 4 AMS Centennial Research Fellows
  • 10 AMS Fellows
  • 1 American Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellow
  • 2 Washington State Academy of Sciences Members
  • 1 Foreign Member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences
  • 2 UW Distinguished Teaching Awards
  • 1 UW Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award
  • 1 IMS Carver Medal
  • 1 Wacław Sierpiński Medal
  • 1 Vietnamese Friendship Medal
  • 1 INFORMS John von Neumann Theory Prize
  • 1 AMS Stefan Bergman Prize
  • 1 AMS Bôcher Memorial Prize
  • 2 AMS Leroy P. Steele Prizes
  • 1 Fulkerson Prize
  • 1 Rollo Davidson Prize
  • 1 Elsevier Itô Prize
  • 1 NSF Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists & Engineers
  • 1 AWM Humphreys Award
  • 1 AWM Louise Hay Award
  • 1 MAA Haimo Award

*Winter 2019

 

Education

The department offers an undergraduate degree program in Mathematics and an interdisciplinary program—joint with the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering, and Statistics—in Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences. The department is also a major service department, with over 15,000 students enrolled in its courses annually. The department received the University of Washington 2005 Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence.

Students*

  • 370 Undergraduate majors
  • 158 ACMS Undergraduate majors
  • 5 Master’s students
  • 90 PhD students

*Autumn 2019

Degrees Awarded* 

  • 206 Bachelor’s degrees
  • 75 ACMS Bachelor’s degrees
  • 175 Math minors
  • 11 Master’s degrees
  • 12 PhD degrees

*Autumn 2018 - Summer 2019

Major Student Awards*

  • 7 A&S Dean’s Medals
  • 2 A&S Graduate Medals
  • 1 President’s Medal
  • 1 Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 2 UW Freshman Medals
  • 2 UW Sophomore Medals
  • 3 UW Junior Medals
  • 1 Husky 100
  • 3 Goldwater Scholarships
  • 10 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
  • 3 NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
  • 3 Sloan Fellowships
  • 1 Putnam Fellowship
  • 1 Putnam, Honorable Mention

*Since 2010

 

Outreach

Through Mathday, an annual event, more than 1,500 high school students visit the University for a day of engaging mathematics-related events led by Mathematics faculty and students.

Ongoing activities, such as a weekly after-school program for students who want to expand their mathematical horizons (UW Math Circle) and a weekend lecture series on the UW campus (Monthly Math Hour), introduce middle and junior high school students to the exciting world of mathematics.

The Summer Institute for Mathematics at the University of Washington is a privately funded summer program for talented high school students in the Pacific Northwest that introduces them to the depth and beauty of mathematics.

 

Contact

Department of Mathematics
Box 354350
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1150​
math.washington.edu

 

Fact sheet last updated: February 2020