A short history of METU Department of Mathematics from 1956 to 2014

Our department, the Department of Mathematics of METU, was a small service unit with a handful of instructors when established in 1956 and became an independent department attached to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1959. In early 1960s, METU received a long term financial support from the Ford Foundation in aid of research and training in the fields of mathematics and science. The department benefited largely from this assistance. Many distinguished scientists visited the department and research activities were greatly enhanced. With the addition of Cahit Arf and Gündüz İkeda to its ranks, the METU Department of Mathematics became a centre of attraction for Turkish mathematicians abroad. At this juncture, the undergraduate and graduate curriculums were revised and renewed. The first Bachelor of Science degrees were awarded in the academic year 1964-1965, the first Master of Science degrees in 1964 and the first doctoral degree is awarded in 1970.


After 1971, the department initiated Numerical Analysis and Operational Research options in addition to Pure Mathematics option. The operational research group left the department in 1976 to establish the Department of Statistics and Operational Research. The Numerical Analysis option continued to coexist with the Pure Mathematics option under the name Applied Mathematics and Numerical Analysis.   


Our department initiated graduate summer schools in early 1970s and 1980s with the aim of supporting the graduate programs of other Turkish universities. The aim was to bring the graduate  students of  the developing universities, preferably from Anatolia, into contact with active mathematicians.     


Despite the difficult economic circumstances of early 1980s, our department continued research actitivities and maintained contact with mathematicians abroad. International conferences at home and abroad were regularly attended and the exchange of visiting scientists was kept up. In particular, research collaborations were conducted with the functional analysis groups from Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, and with the applied mathematics groups from Darmstadt.


In the following years, members of the department organized several international conferences. For instance, the numerical analysis group organized the international conference “Symposium in Numerical Analysis”, partially supported by ICTP [1] and the functional analysis group organized the international symposium “NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Advances in the Theory of Fréchet Spaces”. Members of our department actively participate in the annual organization of Gökova Geometry-Topology Conference and Antalya Algebra Days. 


Apart from this, a memorial activity under the name of  “Arf Lectures”  in which one of the  most distinguished mathematicians of the world is invited to address a meeting to commemorate Cahit Arf is organized on an annual basis by our department.


The undergraduate curriculum was revised and made more flexible in early 1990s. A larger selection of elective courses was made available while compulsory courses were reduced in number. The strict separation between pure and applied mathematics was removed. It was made possible for the graduates to have more alternatives and more flexible assets in planning their professional lives. Meanwhile, the Department of Mathematics assumed a position of leadership in the university by becoming the first department to initiate a “Double Major Program” which was later adopted by the rest of the university.  


In 1998 our department underwent of its own volition a process of external evaluation supported by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. As distinct from a standard procedure of accreditation, the proposals which came into being through the evaluatory work of an External Evaluation Committee with the purpose of enabling the department to update itself and to realize its shortcomings, were reevaluated and put into practice by the department itself. In this connection, our department made substantial efforts for the initiation of interdisciplinary activities on cryptography, scientific computation, financial mathematics, actuarial science and  led the efforts towards the establishment of the Institute of Applied Mathematics in 2002. From its very inception the Institute of Applied Mathematics has been in close cooperation with the Department of Mathematics. Members of our departent continue to contribute to this institute by assuming administrative duties, offering lectures and seminars and supervising graduate studies.   


The graduate programs of our department were revised again in 2003 and an integrated doctoral program that enables a candidate to start working directly for a doctoral degree was introduced and established as the principal mode of graduate study, discontinuing admission for the M. Sc. degree.


Among the members of our department, Cahit Arf, Gündüz İkeda and Tosun Terzioğlu were awarded the TÜBİTAK (Turkish Council of Scientific and Technological Research) Science Award. Apart from this, the members of our department received 8 TÜBİTAK Incentive Awards, 5 Sedat Simavi Awards, 1 Mustafa Parlar Foundation Scientific Award, 5 Mustafa Parlar Foundation Incentive Awards and 3 İkeda Awards. Furthermore, 3 of our members were supported within the framework of TÜBA-GEBİP (a program for promoting successful young scientists). In 2013, the QS has ranked our department among the best 200 mathematics departments worldwide.


In our department, the number of faculty has fluctuated over the years. As of May 2014, our department comprises 40 faculty members including 5 foreign residents, and 54 research assistants including 15 recruited under the auspices of ÖYP  (a program for the training of graduate students as prospective faculty in other Turkish universities).


As of May 2014,  about 3000 degrees were awarded by our  department of which 116 are Ph. D.  degrees. About 60 of the Ph. D.s were  awarded in the last 10 years.





Chairmans of Department of Mathematics.


Yaşar Gönenç:  24.06.1964 – 1966.

Tuğrul Taner:   14.09.1966 – 1967.

Hayri Körezlioğlu: 10.10.1967 – 1971.

Fuat Özkan:    29.11.1971 – 01.11.1973.

Tosun Terzioğlu: 10.11.1973 – 10.05.1974.

Tuğrul Taner:   10.05.1974 – 1977.

Tosun Terzioğlu:  01.11.1977 – 04.04.1978.

Cemal Koç:  04.04.1978 – 1981.

Uluğ Çapar:  02.10.1981 – 1982.

Masatoshi Gündüz İkeda:  06.10.1982 – 1983.

Okay Çelebi: 26.09.1983 – 30.09.1987. 

Mehmet Orhon: 01.10.1987 – 1988.

Tosun Terzioğlu: 03.11.1988 – 1991.

Aydın Aytuna:  15.11.1991 – 1993.

Turgut Önder: 23.02.1993 – 01.01.1995.

Cemal Koç:   1995 – 20.4.1996.

Şafak Alpay: 21.5.1996 – 18.2.1999.

Okay Çelebi: 18.2.1999 – 2001.

Ersan Akyıldız:  16.04.2001 – 11.12.2003.

Şafak Alpay:  11.12.2003 – 11.12.2006.

Zafer Nurlu:  11.12.2006 – 19.12.2011.

Mustafa Korkmaz: 19.12.2011 –




[1]   ICTP: International Center of Theoretical Physics; an institute of theoretical physics inTrieste, Italy. This center continues its activities presently under the name Abdus Salam Center of Theoretical Physics.