Course Information for Freshmen

Photo of Math Textbooks Credit: Meagan Heirwegh

Beyond Math 1 (a core institute requirement), there are numerous courses available to freshmen with an interest in math. We recommend:

  • Math 20 - Frontiers in Mathematics 
    • A freshman pizza course featuring weekly talks by math faculty members and post-docs. This course provides an introduction to the research currently being conducted in the department. A great way for students to find areas they would like to explore further, as well as identify potential summer research supervisors.
  • Math 2 - Differential Equations
    • Students who have placed out of Math 1a may want to consider taking Math 2 in their freshman year. This course introduces differential equations and the underlying concepts.
  • Math 5abc - Introduction to Abstract Algebra
    • A course often taken by interested freshmen. This course introduces students to abstract algebra as well as to proof-writing, an essential skill for any aspiring mathematician. 
  • Math 6abc - Introduction to Discrete Math
    • This course introduces topics in combinatorics including graph theory and graph algorithms, cryptography and algebraic structures. 
  • Math 17 - How to Solve It
    • Caltech's Putnam exam class. This class covers how to solve problems for math competitions. How to approach a problems as well as tips and tricks for solving are covered. Students who attend this class often go on to write the Putnam exam in December, though it is not required. This class can be repeated in future years for credit.

Math also has courses available for students who need additional practice solving problems in Math 1 or Physics 1.

  • Math 8 - Problem Solving in Calculus
    • Hands-on class for students who require additional assistance in calculus (Math 1a). Based on the results of the diagnostic test, many students will be required to enroll in Math 8, but all are welcome to attend. This course helps to ensure all students are prepared for success in mathematics at Caltech.
  • Math 13 - Problem Solving in Vector Calculus
    • This is a new 7-week, hands-on class for students who require additional assistance with vector calculus, especially the vector calculus required in Physics 1b. All are welcome to attend.