Graduate Foreign Language Requirement

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In many areas of mathematics, important work has been published and continues to be published in languages other than English. For this reason the field of mathematics requires that you pass a test of basic mathematical reading ability in one language other than English. The allowed languages are French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese, regardless of whether any of these is your native tongue. However, to ensure maximal relevance to your research area, your choice of language must be approved by your thesis advisor (special committee chair); if he/she has no opinion you may make your own choice.

Students must pass the test before beginning their seventh semester of registration; this deadline was set many years ago. The test is a prerequisite for the A-exam. You may take it as soon as you have chosen a thesis advisor. The exam must be administered by faculty in the graduate field of Mathematics. Depending on the composition of the field membership, not all language options may be available at all times.

If the foreign language is your native tongue, the GFA will waive the test.

For record-keeping purposes, please notify James Utz before taking the test. He can also help you find an examiner if your advisor does not know one.

Language Examiners

Michael Nussbaum
Birgit Speh
Reyer Sjamaar
Anil Nerode

French Laurent Saloff-Coste
Nicolas Templier
Tara Holm
James West
John Hubbard
Reyer Sjamaar
Marcelo Aguiar
Michael Nussbaum
Anil Nerode
Ravi Ramakrishna
Timothy Riley
Katie Mann
Russian Yuri Berest
Alexander Vladimirsky
Michael Nussbaum
Inna Zakharevich
Gennady Samorodnitsky
Spanish Marcelo Aguiar
Chinese Xiaodong Cao
Xin Zhou

Test Content

A minimal acceptable form of the test is to translate a section of an article or textbook into English with the use of a dictionary and without time limitation. Advisors who want to impose a more stringent test, such as an on-the-spot reading test, are free to do so.

As an alternative, with the agreement of the examiner, you may choose to write a summary in English of an entire research paper written in the foreign language. You select the paper in consultation with the examiner. The summary need not be a word-for-word translation, but should at least include a statement of the main results of the paper, along with context and proof ideas as appropriate.

Test content is determined by the examiner.

Special Requests

Students who have special requests should first discuss them with their Ph.D. advisor. If the advisor supports the request, then it should be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies.