The following regulations are designed to facilitate the completion of suitable honors projects in mathematics.
1. Honors candidates will be matched with a thesis advisor by the Department and should choose a topic in consultation with that advisor before the end of the Junior year.
2. The body of the honors thesis, excluding front matter, appendices, and bibliography, must not exceed fifty pages. When the Department determines honors levels and the Breusch prize, nothing beyond the fifty page limit will be considered to be part of the thesis.
The fifty page limit should be regarded as a maximum and not a norm. In addition, the pages must be double-spaced, with no more than thirty lines per page. The text must be printed using either a fixed width font of twelve or fewer letters per inch or a variable width font no smaller than 11 points. Larger or smaller fonts are permitted outside regular text, such as in headings, sub- and superscripts, or footnotes. On each page of the thesis, the margins should be 1.5 inches on the binding side and one inch for the remaining three sides. The format described here is implemented in the thesis template file
These regulations are in the interest of achieving a work whose appearance supports the content rather than obscures it. The advantages of a document that is not only pleasing to the eye but also eminently readable are hard to overestimate. Every effort should be made to format formulae, equations, programs, and technical expressions in such a way that they are clear and unambiguous. An examination of recent theses and current journals, available in the Olds Library on the fifth floor of Seeley Mudd, will indicate the comparative advantages of doing a good job of formatting.
The following files illustrate the format and writing style appropriate to a thesis: thesis template and a sample thesis TeX file (pdf version). For an introduction on how to use LaTeX when writing a thesis, see LaTeX tips (pdf version and sample figure file).
3. In Spring 2018, theses are due to the thesis advisor by 5:00 pm on Monday, April 2nd. A revised version of the thesis, taking into account the advisor's feedback, should be submitted to the department chair by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, April 4th. This date is not subject to extension.
4. Failure to comply with regulations 2 and 3 above will be regarded as a serious flaw in the theses, and may result in a lowered grade in the thesis course and possibly a lowered level of honors.
5. The copy of the thesis that is turned in on the due date described in item 3 should be a pdf version of the thesis, emailed to the chair of the department. No hardcopy is required at this time. However, the pdf version should conform to the specifications of the College Library and be acceptable for deposit in the College Archives. (The Registrar ordinarily sends a copy of these College guidelines to each senior in the first few weeks of their last semester. The format used in the thesis template, thesis.tex, follows these guidelines.)
6. After you submit the pdf copy of your thesis on the due date described in item 3, you should procure a manila folder and a binder clip from the Office of Archives and Special Collections.
7. Corrections to theses may be made after the date on which they are due in the Department's hands. Corrections may be made to the body of the thesis, but every such correction will be acknowledged in a list under the heading “Corrections,” along with the statement “When originally submitted, this honors thesis contained some errors which have been corrected in the current version. Here is a list of the errors that were corrected.” This list will be given on a sheet or sheets to be appended to the thesis. Corrections to spelling, grammar, or typography may be acknowledged by a general statement such as “30 spellings were corrected in various places in the thesis, and the notation for definite integral was changed in approximately 10 places.” However, any correction that affects the meaning of a sentence or paragraph should be described in careful detail. The files samplethesis.tex and samplethesis.pdf show what the "Corrections" section should look like. Questions about what should appear in the “Corrections” should be directed to the Chair.
8. Substantial additions to theses made after the date on which they are due to the Department can be done only in exceptional circumstances and require permission of the Department. When allowed, the additions should not cause the thesis to exceed the fifty page limit. The additions need to be acknowledged at the end of the “Corrections” section in a separate list preceded by the statement “The following portions of the corrected thesis differ substantially from the version originally submitted.”
9. Before noon on the second to last day of classes, a pdf of the corrected copy of the thesis and list of corrections must be emailed to the Chair and a printout of the corrected version (with corrections) must be provided to the Department at the same time. Again, both versions must conform to the College guidelines, and the hardcopy -- the archive copy for the library -- must be in the manila folder and binder clip from Archives. The Department will deliver the archive copy to the Registrar and will also store each thesis both in hard copy and electronically within the Department.
10. The honors candidate will make references pertaining to the thesis available to interested faculty upon request. Such requests need to be honored promptly.
11. Each candidate for honors will deliver an 45 minute-long lecture in the departmental Colloquium on the subject of the thesis. The talk should be intelligible to upper level majors. It need not cover all the material in the thesis, but the candidate should be prepared to answer questions from members of the Department on any aspect of the honors project, in a question period following the talk.
12. The grade in the Senior Honors courses 498 and 499 is determined by the thesis advisor, possibly in consultation with the Department. The level of honors recommended to the College is determined by the Department. The talk as well as the thesis is considered when setting the level of honors. The advisor decides whether the talk will be considered in determining the grade for the Senior Honors courses 498 and 499.
13. Discuss copyright options with your thesis advisor and ask them to sign the copyright cover sheet, which is submitted with your thesis. The form and other thesis submission information is available at https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/registrar/quick-links/thesis_guide.
Last Edited: December 2017
Last major content edit: April 2017