Foreword: MASS and REU at Penn State University 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 ix
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