Category Archives: Graduate posts

Qualifying Exams in Applied Mathematics

Applied mathematics exam
The applied mathematics qualifying exam covers topics in dynamical systems, partial differential equations, and applied linear algebra.
  1. Basic dynamical systems concepts: definition of a dynamical system (continuous and discrete), equilibrium states, ω,α-limit sets, invariant sets, stability of equilibrium states and periodic solutions, population dynamics models; linear systems, stable, unstable, center spaces; non-linear systems and existence/uniqueness of solutions; linearization, topological equivalence/conjugacy, center manifold theory (applications: species competition models, SIR models, predator-prey models); some global nonlinear techniques (nullclines, Lyapunov function, applications: nonlinear pendulum, SIR models); limit cycles. Poincaré–Bendixson theory in $\mathbb R^2$ (applications: Van der Pol oscillator, predator-prey models with limit cycle, oscillating chemical reactions); stability of periodic solutions, Poincaré map.
  2. Bifurcation theory: family of systems, structural stability, definition of a bifurcation; Peixoto’s theorem, Morse–Smale systems; examples of one-parameter bifurcations of equilibrium states (application: laser phenomenon); genericity, transverse intersections, versal unfoldings (deformations) and codimension of a bifurcation (application: spruce budworm model (codimension-2 bifurcation)); the Hopf bifurcation (applications: oscillating chemical reactions, FitzHugh–Nagumo model); center manifold theory (for bifurcations); global bifurcations (homoclinic, heteroclinic).
  3. Introduction to chaos: examples of chaotic behavior (discrete logistic model, Duffing oscillator, Lorenz system, Henon map, Horseshoe map, symbolic dynamics), sensitivity to initial condition; more on logistic model (period doubling, Feigenbaum constant, dense periodic orbits and Sharkovskii’s theorem); strange attractors; Lyapunov exponents.
  4. Elements of partial differential equations: first order linear and quasilinear PDEs and the method of characteristics, second order linear PDEs and their classification, the Sturm–Liouville problem, Green’s functions and fundamental solutions, the Fourier transform, equilibrium solutions of time-dependent PDEs.
  5. Elements of applied linear algebra: eigenvalues, Rayleigh quotients, the Jordan normal form, singular value decomposition, Gram–Schmidt orthogonalization, convergence of finite difference schemes.
The following textbooks are recommended:
  • Perko, Differential equations and dynamical systems
  • Strogatz, Nonlinear dynamics and chaos: with applications to physics, biology, chemistry, and engineering
  • Hirsch, Smale, and Devaney, Differential equations, dynamical systems, and an introduction to chaos
  • Friedberg, Insel, Linear algebra
  • Roman, Advanced Linear algebra
  • Bleeker, Csordas, Basic partial differential equations
  • Evans, Partial differential equations
Sample Exams

Private tutoring

Interested in private tutoring?

Here is a list of graduate students who are willing to tutor
privately for the Spring 2022 term.

Janitha Aswedige –

Arturo Jaime –

Ikenna Nometa –

Rachelle Reiff –

Please contact them directly to make arrangements such as cost,
meeting time and place, etc.  The Mathematics Department is not
responsible for these arrangements.

Qualifying exams in algebra

Algebra exam
The algebra qualifying exam covers several standard topics in abstract algebra.
  1. Group theory: basics of group actions, semidirect products, class equation, Sylow theorems, applications, solvable groups, Jordan–Hölder theorem
  2. Field and Galois theory: finite fields, separable and normal extensions, Fundamental theorem of Galois theory, applications (e.g. solvability by radicals, constructions by straightedge and compass, …), determining Galois groups
  3. Ring theory: factorization in domains, simplicity of matrix algebras
  4. Module theory: basics, projectivity, injectivity, tensor products, flatness, Noetherian property, exact sequences, commutative diagrams, structure theory of modules over a PID, consequences for canonical forms of matrices and other linear algebra
  5. Language of category theory: objects, arrows, Hom, functors, natural transformations, universal objects, products, coproducts, Yoneda lemma
  6. Multilinear algebra: pairings, wedge products, symmetric products, multilinear forms over rings
  7. Basic commutative algebra: local rings and localization, integral extensions, Hilbert Basis Theorem, Noether Normalization, Hilbert’s Nullstellensatz
The following textbooks are recommended:
  • Dummit and Foote, Abstract algebra
  • Lang, Algebra
  • Rotman, Advanced Modern Algebra
  • Hungerford, Algebra
  • Jacobson, Basic Algebra I & II
Sample Exams

Grad student chapter of the AMS

Our graduate students have their own Chapter of the American Mathematical Society!

Check out their web site for more info.

According to the AMS,

The AMS Graduate Student Chapter Program is a member benefit of Institutional Membership. The Chapter Program makes meaningful contributions to the professional development of graduate students in the mathematical sciences and encourages graduate students to engage with the Society.