About Our Department

From Daniel Coombs, Head of Department

The Department of Mathematics at UBC is among the strongest mathematics departments in North America. Our international reputation for excellence is not only well-established, but also rising during this exciting expansion period of our research and training programs.

We currently host approximately 60 full-time faculty, more than 100 graduate students and over 35 postdoctoral fellows, with our training programs still growing. Postdocs, Visitors, graduate and undergraduate students from all around the world choose to work and study Mathematics at UBC.

Prof. Danial Coombs, Department Head


Research interests in the department cover a strikingly broad array of areas, with our recent department review citing an excellent balance of pure and applied mathematics. 


Our Awards page describes the many prestigious international and national research prizes awarded to our faculty. Included are of the Canadian Math Society research prizes since 2000, Sloan and Steacie prizes for less senior researchers, and invited lectures at the most prestigious conferences, including the International Congress of Mathematicians. The Department has a long tradition of counting Fellows of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of London among our faculty. The impact of our faculty members' research is further demonstrated by numerous articles published in the highest quality journals. In addition our faculty have won numerous teaching and leadership awards.


The Department enjoys strong connections with other departments and institutes at UBC. It plays a major role in the cross-disciplinary Institute for Applied Mathematics (IAM), with members from across Science, Applied Science and other UBC faculties. We have jointly appointed faculty in Chemical and Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, and Zoology. Each week, the department, the IAM and the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) host a large number of colloquia and specialized seminars, featuring talks by leaders in pure and applied mathematics from UBC and around the world.

The department has played a major role in the development of vibrant national and international institutes institutes, such as the Banff International Research Station (BIRS), Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS), and the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), connecting well beyond UBC. We are also a founding member of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley.


We offer between 15 and 20 graduate courses per term ranging from first-year core courses to advanced topics courses on the frontiers of mathematical research. Recently, we have augmented our summer course offerings, with advanced graduate level topics courses (in conjunction with special programs sponsored by PIMS) that attract students and visitors from many universities.

We offer graduate programs leading to MSc and PhD degrees with specialization in any of the many areas of interest to research faculty. The IAM coordinates graduate programs in applied math, and students following this program can choose thesis supervisors in Math or other departments. With very few exceptions our grad students are fully supported by combinations of fellowships, research assistantships and teaching assistantships. Our graduates have won many distinguished awards and have obtained high quality jobs in universities and industry.


We offer a very large number of undergraduate courses ranging from introductory calculus through many varieties of differential equations, linear and abstract algebra, pure and applied analysis, geometry, topology, number theory, discrete mathematics, probability and many areas of applied mathematics. Through constantly innovating in our curriculum we serve the needs of math students and those in other departments.

For undergraduates concentrating in mathematics, we provide honours and majors in mathematics as well as combined honours and major in mathematics and another subject, for example, economics or computer science.

The Undergraduate Mathematics Society provides study and social opportunities for undergraduates in Mathematics and related fields.

For our Honours students, we have a full menu of challenging courses, and other activities such as weekly training sessions for the challenging Putnam Exam; our Putnam team regularly finishes in the top twenty within North America and often within the top ten.

We provide a number of summer research opportunities for talented undergraduates, many supported through the NSERC and WLI USRA programs. Our alumni choose from a wide variety of opportunities including positions in both the public and private sectors, graduate study and teaching.


Finally, we are actively involved in many outreach activities, promoting mathematics in elementary and secondary schools as well as to the general public. For instance, we offer problem-solving workshops in the schools, and we coordinate the Euclid exam for secondary school students and participate in the BC Challenge Calculus Exams. We are also developing programs to support teachers at the elementary and secondary levels.

Most recently, we have greatly expanded our efforts in cooperation with PIMS and the Faculty of Science in supporting Aboriginal Education. We are cooperating with local elementary and secondary schools to provide year round programs to support both students and teachers, with the goal of increasing success in Mathematics at all levels.

Contact Us

Daniel Coombs
Head of Department
Department of Mathematics