I don't know a lot about Cornell, but the math program here is fantastic. I know math majors who chose to go to Chicago over Harvard and MIT. If you can visit, your brother should try to sit in on Honors Analysis or Honors Calculus. Honors Analysis and Math 55 at Harvard are supposed to be the hardest UG math courses in the country. I'm not a math major, so I don't know a ton about it, but the math majors I know love the classes and love the professors. There are a good number of female math majors, too, which is nice. The distance isn't very difficult; I'm from New England, as well.
So I asked my father, who is a mathematician, and this is what he had to say:
The math department at Chicago is one of the best in the world, and the program is very very good.
One of the problems for math majors is that they may not appreciate a core which emphasizes social science to such an extent.
A friend of mine last year was choosing between Caltech and Chicago, and ultimately that's the reason he decided to go to Caltech.
However, if your little brother would like the core, my dad thinks that he will find the math department at Chicago better.
I would have to agree with Organgetree. You probably get better class sizes and more Professor interaction at Chicago too. I believe that Chicago's math department is superior in graduate rankings, and that Chicago undergrad is more rigorous and personal than Cornell in general, for whatever that is worth. Love the core, and it's a perfect match.
This is a little weird for me to highjack this thread, since I didn't apply to Chicago, but everyone here seems so friendly, I was wondering if you could ask your dad if he thought Rice's math department would match up. I get the feeling that it's just as good or better than Cornell, but nobody cares because Cornell plays football against <3 Harvard <3
I love using public forums for private conversations by the way.
I asked my dad,
and he said that both Rice and Cornell are very good, perhaps equally so, but not very comparable.
My brother tried UG math at Cornell, and was frustrated by it (a combination of dense material and not the best profs.)
Math becomes a different beast once you get to college-- it becomes very theoretical and "prove that there is only one 0," etc. That said, if you want to be a math major, more power to you. You'll find lots of company here.
If you're not totally sure on the theory stuff... if you think you might spill over into physics or econ, Chicago has great programs for both, and both physics and econ are mathematically complex but more "grounded" than pure math. If you think engineering might be more of interest though... Cornell has terrific engineering, and Chicago has none.
O.K. - I am married to a Math major (UChicago '78 - it's kindof scary when they are talking greek formulas in their sleep - I used to think that my H had a girlfriend named Beta or Theta!!!) and have a S who is an '05 UChicago Math major. Everybody hears about the Economics department at UChicago but alot of people don't know that the Math Dept. is a little gem there. We have a good friend (her first name is Diane) who heads up the ugrad program in Math and she gave us an excellent little sermon on why math is so useful as a major and what you can do with it. If you visit, try to see her. She is one of the first female math PhD's at UChicago.
My S ended up working as a problem set grader for some of the profs in the Math dept and the Statistics Dept. I think that was very helpful for him in many ways, esp. with securing a job later.
Math is awesome at UChicago - both theoretical and ultimately practical!!
----> Peacemaker is referring to Diane Herrman, associate director of undergraduate studies. SHE IS FANTASTIC. I'm not a math major, but she talked to a few of us after our placement tests earlier this year, and I went in to talk to her privately once as well... If anyone has any questions about Chicago Math, they can all be answered by her. That and she's really nice, too...