Campus & Community

Problems solved at Harvard’s math lounge

2 min read

Science Center common room doubles as student think tank and retreat

At almost any time of day, you’ll see students working out problem sets, attacking homework, or chilling with headsets in the Austin and Chilton McDonnell Common Room.

“Many students who work in the math lounge might not know that they are actually at the place the legendary Ahlfors has worked,” says mathematics Professor Oliver Knill. Lars Ahlfors was known for his work in complex analysis. Knill says other famous mathematicians are also linked to the room, including Oscar Zariski, Raoul Bott, and Jean-Pierre Serre.

“Who knows, maybe one day, one of the students working there will develop new ideas shaping the next century of mathematics.”

The lively Austin and Chilton McDonnell Common Room is on the fourth floor of the Science Center.
Reuben Stern ’20 (left), Professor Noam Elkies, and James Hotchkiss ’18 discuss beats in classical music in the fourth floor math lounge at the Science Center.
A math lounge blackboard sports writing dealing with a discrete dynamical system, part of linear algebra.
Gray Putnam ’17 (left) and graduate student Lily Yichen Shi work on a physics lab report.
Math department welcome parties are held in the Austin and Chilton McDonnell Common Room.
Some visit for quiet contemplation.
Freshmen Shelly Tsirulik (from left), May Wang, and Ariella Kahan do homework together.
Kevin Yang ’17 shares a laugh of frustration while trying to solve a problem.
Essential chalk!
Zijian Yao, a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics, offers insight to fellow candidate Jeremy Hahn.
Timers are ready for challengers.
Working it out.