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From the Editor

We celebrate the May Eastern Sectional—with Marques on minimal surfaces, Maynard on primes, and Ramanan on random projections—and the upcoming July Mathematical Congress of the Americas—with Granville's alternative approach to analytic number theory and Peres's cover story on a fair partition of the sphere and overhanging blocks. Allyn Jackson recalls two highlights of the January Joint Mathematics Meetings: inspiring talks by Alice Silverberg and Francis Su. We have reports on CeMEAI, the Brazilian center for industrial mathematics, and the Mathematics Genealogy Project. Further inside you'll find announcements of three AMS awards for 2017—Impact Award, Exemplary Program Award, and Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference—as well as the 2017 JPBM Communications Award. And of course we have the usual book reviews and Graduate Student Section, including "WHAT IS...a Virtual Knot?" —Frank Morgan, Editor-in-Chief

Communications

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Graduate Students

May 2017
Volume 64 · Issue 05

Do We Need Prerequisites?

This article begins with a schematic diagram of the traditional mathematics curriculum, starting in grade 1 and ending in the senior year of a mathematics major. It's a sobering picture: Until they reach Calculus II, there is a single lockstep track students must follow.  Even after that, prerequisites too often act as barriers to what can be learned.  The authors find that a rigid structure of prerequisites serves hardly anybody—not struggling students, not math majors, not even the highly talented who go on to graduate school. "We are not claiming that prerequisites are unnecessary," they wrote. "Rather, we submit that insufficient thought has been given to creating a curriculum which minimizes prerequisites and maximizes a student's options."