Friend of the University of Rochester

December 14, 1995

Walter A. Fallon
Arthur R. Kantrowitz
David T. Kearns
Dennis O'Brien
George E. Pake
Hugo E. Sonnenschein
Robert L. Sproull


I was absolutely appalled and dumbfounded to learn first from my colleagues at UCSD and then from friends all over the country of the University of Rochester's intention to do away with its graduate program in mathematics and to have only a service program in the field. It is hard to imagine that a first rate university with an outstanding mathematics faculty (The National Research Council survey not withstanding and as co-chair of that study I speak with some authority on the significance of those rankings) would take such an action no matter how dire financial circumstances might be.

Not only is mathematics an exciting and vital intellectual endeavor, but from a number of standpoints plays an exceptional educational role at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Advanced mathematics is essential in all areas of applied science, economics, technological risk analysis, to an increasing extent in fundamental and applied biology (e.g., drug design), in national security issues involving communication, cryptoanalysis, satellite reconnaissance; the list is endless but one more example is particularly relevant: In recent years topology has played a central role in elementary particle physics where string theory is a candidate for a "Theory of Everything". This is another case of the remarkable and mysterious relationship between mathematics and the physical world. Topology is one of the strengths of the Rochester Mathematics Department.

The very best teachers of undergraduates are those who by virtue of their research expertise can transmit to students the importance and vitality of this field. Bringing temporary people to teach introductory courses in mathematics. is unfair to students who might otherwise be turned on to pure mathematics, the sciences or engineering.

I would urge you as members of the Board to reconsider the decision which, in my opinion, will be very damaging to the University.


Marvin L. Goldberger, Dean
Division of Natural Sciences
University of California, San Diego

President Emeritus
California Institute of Technology

cc: Thomas H. Jackson

American Mathematical Society