In science, there are no such things as unrelated courses. One finds that a mathematical form that represents competition in an ecology course stands a good chance of being the same one that represents a chemical reaction or a knight’s move on a chess board. This is one of the beauties of mathematics and, at the same time, one of its powers. Mathematics is a field that (by its own structure) uses forms to investigate itself. This power of introspection will become more and more manifest as you move up the course ladder. Indeed, learning mathematics at Marlboro is learning to spot the reflections of one course in another and to see that there is a great unity and beauty to the subject.

The mathematics curriculum at Marlboro has a two-fold purpose:

  • Power: to exercise the ability to formalize and abstract, and to develop a facility in specializing abstractions in order to attack applied problems.
  • Introspection: to appreciate the inherent beauty of mathematical enquiry, and to investigate and to understand the intertwined relationships between the three major branches of mathematics.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

Students are encouraged to pursue whatever topic demands their attention from across the many sub-fields of mathematics. Recent examples include chaos theory, combinatorics, complex analysis, cryptography, formal languages, game studies, graph theory, group theory, history of mathematics, mathematical modeling, and statistics. Interdisciplinary Plans are welcomed.

Good Foundation for Plan

All students of mathematics must search for a basic understanding in each of the three major areas: algebra, geometry and analysis. To accomplish this in one undergraduate lifetime, it is important to get some core courses—Calculus, Calculus II, Discrete Math and Linear Algebra—completed as soon as possible. Doing this will widen your range of options as you look for a topic on which to focus. When pursuing an interdisciplinary Plan, there is less urgency to complete these courses, since the “introspection” side of the Plan will turn towards investigating the relationships between mathematics and the chosen field.

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Group Theory
  • Statistical and Combinatorial Design Theory
  • Cryptography
  • Topology
  • Combinatorics and Graph Theory
  • Lie Theory
  • Foundations of Mathematics


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)