Math 492 Undergraduate Research in Math
About Math 492
Math 492 is a recently introduced course, intended to accommodate
undergraduate research projects in mathematics. Here is the
official course description:
Work closely with department faculty on a well-defined research
project. Topics and nature of assistance vary. Capstone paper or
computational project required.
Why take Math 492
Undergraduate research experiences are increasingly valued by employers
and graduate schools, A Math 492 project provides an accessible way for
UIUC students to gain such a research experience, while at the same
time earning advanced course credit, and offering opportunities to gain
additional experiences through presentations at conferences and outreach
events. It increases your chances of getting into competitive summer
research programs and sought-after internships, and it can boost your
prospects with graduate schools.
My experience with Math 492
Since Fall 2014 (when the course number
was first introduced), I have been running more than a dozen Math 492 projects,
involving between one and four students each, and I have enjoyed every
one of them! See my
Research page for more information on these projects.
Some of these projects were offered under the
Illinois Geometry Lab
(IGL) framework, while others have been run as independent Math 492 projects that I
have arranged directly with the students involved.
I typically run one or two IGL projects each semester (one on a theme at the
interface of Calculus, Geometry, and Probability, and the other on a
theme at the interface of Probability, Number Theory), along with one or
more independent projects, typically mini projects
with 1 or 2 hours of Math 492 credit.
All of my projects have led to conference presentations by the
students involved (another resume booster!), some at local or regional
undergraduate conferences such as the annual University of Illinois
Undergraduate Research Symposium, others at prestigious national
meetings such as the meetings of the Mathematical Association of America
and the American Mathematical Society.
How to get involved in a Math 492 project
For IGL projects there is a centralized online application process
through the IGL website.
Each semester, around a dozen or more projects are offered. Students list up
to three choices in their application, and the IGL Management then
selects three or four students for each project. The IGL typically
receives two or three times as many applications as there are spots
available, so acceptance is not guaranteed. Applications open
usually in late fall for projects in the spring semester, and in late
spring for projects in the fall semester. Check the IGL website for
Independent Math 492 projects are arranged directly with the faculty
member. (If you are interested in one of my projects, contact me!)
These projects offer more flexibility in terms of deadlines, the number
of students involved, the time commitment (for example, a project can be
run at 1 or 2 credit hours instead of 3, with a correspondingly lower
time commitment). They can also accommodate topics that would not be a
good fit for the Illinois Geometry Lab.
If you are interested in doing a Math 492 project with me, first check out my
Undergraduate Research Page for descriptions of past projects,
general expectations, and prerequisites. In coming semesters, I plan to
expand the project offerings
in areas such as data analytics, stochastic
modeling, and applied probability, while still offering a range of
projects in traditional areas of mathematics, such as calculus, geometry,
probability, and number theory. If you are interested in any of these
projects, I'd be happy to discuss possible options with you. Contact me
at firstname.lastname@example.org, and send me a current cv/resume and a
Math 492 (Undergraduate Research in Math)
versus Math 390 (Individual Study)
These two courses are closely related and targeted at
similar audiences: students who have a strong record of math
courses (typically including honors courses) and who may be considering
graduate school in mathematics or a related field such as mathematical
finance, economics, statistics, computer science, etc.
In Math 390 the focus is mainly on the reading and studying of advanced
material (e.g., research papers). A Math 492 project
typically starts out in the same way, by studying relevant articles in
the literature, and then moves on to the research aspect. For more
about Math 390 opportunities see my Math 390 page.
Links and Resources
Last modified: Wed 08 May 2019 12:10:26 PM CDT