Mathematics + Cancer: An Undergraduate "bridge" Course in Applied Mathematics

Tracy L. Stepien, Eric J. Kostelich, Yang Kuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Most undergraduates have limited experience with mathematical modeling. In an effort to respond to various initiatives, such as the recommendations outlined in [S. Garfunkel and M. Montgomery, eds., GAIMME: Guidelines for Assessment & Instruction in Mathemat-ical Modeling Education, SIAM, 2016], this paper describes a course on the mathematical models of cancer growth and treatment. Among its aims is to provide a template for a \bridge" course between the traditional calculus and differential equations sequence and more advanced courses in mathematics and statistics. Prerequisites include a course in ordinary differential equations. Linear algebra is a useful corequisite but no previous pro-gramming experience is required. The content includes classical models of tumor growth as well as models for the growth of specific cancer types. Relevant research articles are provided for further study. Material for student projects and effective communication is supplied, as well as suggestions for homework assignments and computer labs. This paper aims to assist instructors in developing their own \Mathematics + Cancer" course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-263
Number of pages20
JournalSIAM Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cancer
  • Differential equations
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Undergraduate education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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