Mathematics

Mathematicians are the people who figure out if a decision makes sense for a company or organization.

They work in a variety of sectors, including energy, transportation and IT. Key factors for career mathematicians are superb work environment, high income and outlook, and low stress.

When you ask math students about their department, you hear words like unexpected, team, family, community and fun. Math students meet regularly for tea and conversation, celebrate Pi Day every March 14 (or 3.14) and have brought "Elvis the Calculus Dog" to campus. They also have competed in COMAP's (Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications) Mathematical Contest in Modeling with impressive results-earning recognition as a top-tier team, and beating competition from thousands of colleges and universities around the world, including Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale.

Because of their unique training in real-world problem-solving, Roanoke's math majors also describe themselves as superbly prepared to take on the challenges of graduate school and the workplace.

With classes that develop critical thinking skills and a range of advanced coursework, the mathematics program can be tailored to suit your interests and goals.

We offer both a major and a minor in mathematics.

Sample Course Offerings:

  • MATH 278: Foundations of Geometry Professor writing on the chalkboard
  • MATH 321: Vector Calculus 
  • MATH 111: Math Models/Management Science

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In the 2015 CareerCast ranking of jobs, three of the top four were math-based:  Actuary (#1); Mathematician (#3) and Statistician (#4)

Our grads work at great organizations.

Logos for organizations where alumni work: MetLife, Blackbaud, U.S. Cyber Command, Wells Fargo, and Scottish Re

You have some pi on your face

We love to celebrate Pi Day here at Roanoke by baking pies and pie-ing our math, computer science and physics professors. 

Math student Taylor Ferebee builds Movie Predictor app and multi-predictor algorithm

Photo of Taylor Ferebee with an iPadMathematics and physics major Taylor Ferebee '17 is a huge film buff. (Her favorite movie? "Dirty Harry.") Taylor decided to combine her love of filmmaking with her passion for mathematical concepts. Her initial goal was to create an app that could predict the box office success of a film using artificial intelligence. That goal accomplished, Taylor now has upped the ante: She's creating a working multi-predictor algorithm that she can sell-primarily to very tech-savvy people with very specific interests-by 2020. "I've been looking into predicting health outcomes, specifically of college students," Taylor says.

Professor David Taylor | Mathematics

Dr. David Taylor with a group of students

Dr. David Taylor, a card games and poker enthusiast, has written a textbook dedicated to the chances of winning. "The Mathematics of Games: An Introduction to Probability," discusses the basics of probability through games like poker, Yahtzee, Monopoly, blackjack and even bingo.

After developing a May Term course called "The Mathematics of Gambling and Games," Taylor became interested in creating a book that covered mathematics from a gaming perspective. During his course, students played games to observe probability firsthand and then compared discussions and mathematical calculations to see how they matched. Taylor's book uses this same approach; it introduces probability and the idea of chance from a game perspective. "The book walks through mathematical topics in a particular order by introducing various games, asking questions, and then introducing and developing the mathematical framework needed to answer those questions," said Taylor.

Photo of David Wolter reporting on the weather

Passion for weather

David Wolter '09 majored in sociology and minored in math at Roanoke. He had long held the dream of being a meteorologist. At Roanoke, internships at WVTF Public Radio and WDBJ7, the Roanoke CBS affiliate, introduced him to the broadcast side of the news and weather business. Wolter also hosted a sports show on WRKE, the Roanoke College student-run radio station.

"I literally use my math minor every day," Wolter said. "Mathematics has allowed me to develop the problem solving skills I need to successfully create weather forecasts." After graduating, Wolter earned a master's degree in geological and earth sciences/geosciences at Mississippi State University. Wolter is now living his dream as a meteorologist for KBMT in Beaumont, Texas.

"I have a passion for the dynamic nature of the atmosphere. I want to make sure people never underestimate the power of Mother Nature. Educating the general public is a big part of my job. Of course, I provide weather forecasts on various media platforms, but it is just as important for me to be out in the community talking about weather safety."

Photo of Jon Marino

Jon Marino '14 was awarded the top student research prize from the Maryland-DC-Virginia section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). His research with his advisor, Dr. David Taylor, titled "Integer Compositions Applied to the Probability Analysis of Blackjack and the Infinite Deck Assumption," addresses a counting problem associated with blackjack probabilities. The blackjack connection gives Marino's work a familiar and interesting context, but his enjoyment of the project was in the development of new mathematics. This is an exciting occurrence for any mathematician, and the quality of Marino's work has now been recognized at the national level. He also presented his paper at MathFest 2014, where he won a Pi Mu Epsilon best presentation/research award.

Marino worked as an analyst with the Disability Support Service branch of the Social Security Administration immediately after graduating and will attend Virginia Tech for graduate school in mathematics.