Foreword: MASS and
REU at Penn State
This is the second book in the new collection published jointly by
the American Mathematical Society and the MASS (Mathematics
Advanced Study Semesters) program as a part of the Student Math-
ematical Library series. The books in the collection are based on lec-
ture notes for advanced undergraduate topics courses taught at the
MASS and/or Penn State summer REU (Research Experiences for
Undergraduates). Each book presents a self-contained exposition of
a nonstandard mathematical topic, often related to current research
areas, accessible to undergraduate students familiar with an equiva-
lent of two years of standard college mathematics and suitable as a
text for an upper division undergraduate course.
Started in 1996, MASS is a semester-long program for advanced
undergraduate students from across the USA. The program's curricu-
lum amounts to sixteen credit hours. It includes three core courses
from the general areas of algebra/number theory, geometry/topology
and analysis/dynamical systems, custom designed every year; an in-
terdisciplinary seminar; and a special colloquium. In addition, ev-
ery participant completes three research projects, one for each core
course. The participants are fully immersed into mathematics, and
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