Revision of attributes

Revision of attributes for the pure mathematics major


The revision below is intended to reflect changes within the field, our course offering, and recent update to the math introductory sequence. We feel that the new requirements will be simpler for students and advisers to track, and should improve everyone’s experience with the program, without altering the essence of the major. 

The revised requirements will take effect in Fall 2024. Currently declared major majors will be able to complete the major under the old requirements if they wish, or they can switch to the new ones if they prefer. Newly declared majors will need to follow the new requirements. 

Core areas

Current system: For math major, required are two of three core areas. Intensive major requires all three. Designated courses at the 300 level satisfy these requirements. The areas are

  • Algebra 
  • Real analysis 
  • Complex analysis 

New system: For the math major, required will be

  • Algebra 
  • Analysis, real or complex

Intensive math major will continue to require all three (algebra, real analysis, and complex analysis). 

Reasoning: Algebra and analysis are essential components of the major. Each has one required course at the 200 level (Math 225/6, Math 255/6, resp.) and they will now both have a requirement at the 300 level. 

Virtually all math majors do take Math 350; this change will make it a formal requirement. 

Technical note: We will dispose of the core area designation, and simply require Math 350, and Math 305 or 310. Students familiar with these courses will be permitted to substitute a higher level course (typically Math 370 or 380 for algebra, Math 320 or 325 for real analysis, Math 315 for complex analysis). 


Current requirement for math and intensive math major: two courses in each of three categories, selected from

  • algebra
  • analysis
  • statistics and applied math
  • logic and foundations
  • geometry and topology

New requirement: math majors will be required to take three courses marked with a math-distribution attribute. All courses currently listed in the last three categories (stats, logic, geometry) will carry this attribute; as of Spring 2024, there are around twenty such courses, and we will likely add a few more. A given course can count simultaneously toward the distributional requirements and one of the other requirements fo the major. (For example, Math 310 can simultaneously be used as a core area, Math 544 can simultaneously be used as a graduate course toward the intensive math degree.)

Tentative list of courses that will carry the attribute (added here in January 2024): 
241, 242, 244, 246,  247, 251, 270, 302, 310, 322, 330, 345, 354, 360, 421, 430, 435, 440, 447, 544

Note that Math 302 carries it, so if you choose Math 302 for your multivariable requirement, you will need just two more courses for your distribution requirement. 


The current requirement is unnecessarily complicated, given the current setup of the major, where a number of algebra and real analysis courses are already required. It can also be tricky to complete, since some of the categories have relatively few courses, or their courses are only offered every other year.

The new requirement will simply ask students to complete three courses that can be counted toward any area but algebra and real analysis. This will keep the spirit of the current distributional requirement while being easier to track, and it will remove the difficulty of finding companion courses within a potentially narrow category.