Department of Mathematics, University of Southern California

Taking the Initiative: Snapshots of our Progress

USC's Kaprielian Hall, our primary home
USC's Kaprielian Hall, our primary home

Who are we?

Department of Mathematics

University of Southern California

Kaprielian Hall 108

3620 South Vermont Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90089-2532

CID Team Contact Person: I. Gary Rosen,, (213) 740-2446.

Leadership Team:

Wayne Raskind, Department Chair

Jaksa Cvitanic, Associate Chair

Francis Bonahon, Former Acting Chair (2002-2003)

I. Gary Rosen, Vice-Chair of Graduate Studies and Applied Mathematics

Graduate Students: Nathan Glatt-Holtz, Andrea Jedwab, John Mayberry, and Asher Shamam

USC Department of Mathematics Homepage

USC Department of Mathematics CID Page

More About Our Department

The permanent faculty of the USC Department of Mathematics currently consists of 30 full-time tenure-track faculty, 6 tenure-track faculty whose primary appointment is in another department but who have significant teaching responsibilities in the mathematics department, and 2 emeritus professors. This core is reinforced by 7 non-tenure track assistant professors on 3-year positions, 10 research faculty, 5 full-time lecturers, and 9 professors from other departments who have a joint appointment because of their strong interdisciplinary interests in mathematics.

Our faculty displays a remarkable depth and breadth of talent and energy among its generations. On the senior side, three faculty members who have been in the Department for over twenty years are now members of the National Academy of Sciences. Two of those, Michael Waterman and Solomon Golomb, have joint appointments in Biological Sciences and in Electrical Engineering, respectively; however, they regularly teach and supervise PhDs in our programs in applied and pure mathematics, thereby offering a good testimony of the interdisciplinary links already fostered by our department. At the other end of the age spectrum, our junior faculty has recently received very wide recognition, garnering 4 Sloan Fellowships and 2 NSF CAREER awards in the past four years.

The department teaches approximately 6500 students each academic year, the largest number of any academic unit on the USC campus. In recent years, we have awarded approximately 4-6 PhDs a year. During the last 8 years, we have awarded 46 PhDs. Of those, 6 currently hold tenure-track positions in doctorate granting universities, 4 are in tenure-track positions in non-doctorate granating colleges, 6 hold postdoctoral positions, 10 are in non-tenure-track teaching or research positions, and 20 work in business and industry. Our graduate program has recently increased in size to about 120 students, including 65 doctoral students. In addition to classical graduate degrees in mathematics and applied mathematics, we also offer professional master's degrees in Computational Biology and Mathematical Finance. These two degrees have an impact on our doctoral program, since the corresponding research areas are also attracting a significant fraction of our PhD students. On the undergraduate side, we award on average 12 Baccalaureate degrees a year.

Commonalities PowerPoint

Key Ideas PowerPoint

USC Exemplary Snapshot 1
"Current Developments in Mathematics" seminar

USC Exemplary Snapshot 4
New Ph.D. Program in Applied Mathematics

USC Exemplary Snapshot 2
Qualifying Exam Review Sessions

USC Exemplary Snapshot 3
Fostering Intellectual Community

What do we want to accomplish in the CID?

Through our partnership with the CID, the USC Department of Mathematics is effecting a radical reorganization of our doctoral programs, one which will better enable us to prepare our graduate students for the scientific aspects of their future professional life (whether it be in academia or industry); to enhance our students' abilities as teachers, communicators, and mentors; and to recruit and retain talented graduate students.

What are we doing?

*In May 2003, we held "The Doctorate in Mathematics in the 21st Century: What is Needed, What is Expected," a workshop and discussion featuring perspectives from private and public universities and colleges throughout Southern California as well as from Los Angeles-based industries.

*As of Fall 2003, we have implemented a new weekly graduate seminar, Current Developments in Mathematics, as a year-long, for-credit course required for all first-year graduate students. The course is designed to expose them early on to current research being conducted within the department as well as mathematical research in general.

*We have created a Mentoring Triplet Program, in which each of our incoming graduate students becomes part of a team with two mentors who help guide them in pursuing their specific research interests and addressing any "weak spots" in their educational and professional preparation. Each team consists of a senior faculty member, an advanced graduate student, and an incoming student.

*In August 2004, we inaugurated our Graduate Qualifying Examination Preparation Sessions, with sessions geared toward 4 of the department's 8 exams (with plans to expand the program to include all the exams). Each of the weekly sessions is facilitated by a senior graduate student who is currently assigned to be a grader for the corresponding courses this semester. For students planning to take the exams in the current or future semester, the sessions provide an opportunity for them to work together on old exams, review relevant material, bccome familiar with the kinds of problems that typically appear on exams, and to receive pointers on studying and preparation skills.

*We have started the "Tuesday Lunch Bunch for all Weapons of Math Instruction," a weekly opportunity for graduate students, faculty, post-docs, and department staff to have lunch together in order to foster an intellectual and mathematical community within the department.

*We are preparing to launch a Graduate Bridge Program, a summer program to evaluate our incoming doctoral students and address any deficiencies they might have. This will help ensure that students progress through the qualifying examinations and obtain their degrees in a timely fashion. Insofar as no grades will be assigned in this program, it will provide a good time for new students to form bonds among themselves and with the faculty in a low-stress learning atmosphere.

*We are introducing an interdisiplinary component to the oral part of the qualifying exam for the PhD program in Applied Mathematics in order to encourage and prepare students for the actual practice of applied mathematics in academia and industry.

*We are in the process of developing a standardized, University-approved procedure for our graduate students to pursue a "PhD with a Minor"--the combination of a PhD in Mathematics or Applied Mathematics and of a Masters degree in another disipline.

*We plan to encourage graduate student participation in collaborative and interdisciplinary research by instituting semester or half-semester long Targeted Interface Working Groups, in which department faculty members, post-docs and graduate students team up with members from other departments in order to investigate a particular topic at the interfaces of the different disciplines involved. One anticipated outcome of such groups would be the preparation and submittal of a joint proposal to a major funding competition (such as an NSF-targeted initiative.)

*We will launch an industrial internship program for graduate students. Several companies have already sent us letters of commitment to have the students work with them through such a program.

*As part of its relocation in January 2004, the Math Center received a substantial facelift: expanded discussion rooms and meeting areas, new dry-erase boards, comfortable new furniture , and upgraded computer equipment. This renovation has tranformed the Center into a more inviting place for graduate students to hold their consulting hours for the classes in which they teach and for just plain socializing among people who like and use mathematics on campus.

*Over the last four semesters, we have been experimenting with a modified instructional format for undergraduate course, Calculus for Business, in which the graduate teaching assistant is in the class with the instructor. This new format provides more intense, hands-on and collaborative teaching training and mentoring for our graduate students, in that the professor and the TA are present in the same classroom and teach the class together.

USC Innovation Snapshot 1
Graduate Bridge Program

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