Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
MIT again placed fifth among best national universities in the US News and World Report annual rankings. In terms of academic reputation, which was one of the criteria, MIT ranked number one with Princeton. The top 10 universities were Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Duke and MIT, followed by Stanford, Dartmouth, Brown, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Northwestern.
In "A Primer on the US News Rankings," the magazine said, "It is crucial to remember that schools separated by only a few places in the rankings are extremely close in academic quality."
In the category of "Best value-discount prices," MIT-due to its high level of financial aid-was ranked sixth behind Caltech, Rochester, Rice, Tulane and Dartmouth.
In the second annual ranking of undergraduate engineering, Stanford ranked first among schools with a PhD program with a 3.9 score. MIT, Caltech, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of California at Berkeley all ranked second with 3.8 points. In six of the nine engineering departments, MIT was ranked first: aerospace, chemical, computer, electrical, materials and mechanical. Last year, MIT and Stanford tied for first in this category.
In US News' first ranking of undergraduate business schools, the University of Michigan and Wharton (the University of Pennsylvania) tied for first with 3.8 points; MIT/Sloan and UC Berkeley/Haas tied for third with 3.7 points.
"I am pleased for MIT to be recognized again as one of the very top handful of universities in the nation," President Charles M. Vest commented. "It is a tribute to our excellent faculty, students and staff. Frankly, variations of less than two points out of a hundred in such ratings have little if any significance. I don't know if we will ever be number one in this ranking. We should continue to strive for excellence and to do what we believe is important in education and research and let the chips fall where they may."
Asked about MIT ranking second behind Stanford as an engineering school, Dr. Vest said, "This raises my competitive instincts despite the fact that differing by one-tenth of a point out of one hundred is pretty meaningless. I have great admiration for Stanford's engineering school, but let's keep striving to be the best by doing our best."
Regarding the business school ranking, Dr. Vest said, "I have not seen the details of the US News data, but it is good to be recognized as one of the top three undergraduate business programs."
1996 Ranking of National Universities
Pts. '95 rank '95 pts.
1. Yale 100 2 98.8
2. Princeton 99.8 2 98.8
3. Harvard 99.6 1 100
4. Duke 98.7 6 96.8
5. MIT 98.3 5 98.0
6. Stanford 96.8 4 98.1
7. Dartmouth 96.5 7 95.5
8. Brown 96.2 9 95.3
9. Caltech 95.5 7 95.5
9. Northwestern 95.5 13 94.0
Other schools, with last year's rank:
11. Columbia, 15
12. U. Chicago, 11
13. U. Penn, 11
14. Cornell, 13
15. Johns Hopkins, 10
16. Rice, 16
17. Notre Dame, 18
17. Washington U./St. Louis, 20
19. Emory, 17
20. Vanderbilt, 22
21. U. Virginia, 19
22. Tufts, 25
23. Georgetown, 21
24. U. Michigan, Ann Arbor, 14
25. U. No. Carolina/Chapel Hill, 27
25. Wake Forest, 31
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 1996.