Information for Students Considering Mathematics as a Major
Mathematics is one of the oldest of sciences. Although there are many applications of mathematics, the questions that the subject of mathematics seeks to resolve are questions whose answers will deepen our understanding of, and reveal new insights into, mathematics itself. The inherent structure and elegance of mathematics are features of the subject that are difficult to surpass in other fields. Mathematics further differs from other disciplines in that its advances come through the application of pure reason (via the human mind) rather than through observation (via scientific instrumentation). Consequently, mathematics builds upon its past achievements and develops independently of technological advancements.
The basis for using and applying mathematics to any real world problem is a good knowledge of pure mathematics.
The main branches of pure mathematics are algebra (the study of arithmetical systems of various types), analysis (the study of the continuum and the mathematics of change), combinatorics (the mathematics of counting), probability (the mathematics of random phenomena), and topology (the study of geometrical objects and their deformations).
Applied mathematics refers to any discipline in which the development of mathematical tools is the main objective. Consider: (i) the study of how blood flows through the cardiovascular system; (ii) encryption for secure internet commerce; and (iii) the development of models for chemical reactions in the high atmosphere. These are all examples of applied mathematics. Other examples are Actuarial Science and Statistics.
Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty, a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.
If you, like Russel, feel this way, then you should consider majoring in pure mathematics.
Students who graduate from the B.Sc. program will be proficient in the uses of mathematics, especially with calculus, matrix algebra, and differential equations. These graduates will also have been exposed to some statistics, computer science, and higher level mathematical reasoning in the form of mathematical proof. Courses in number theory, abstract algebra, and optimisation can be taken as part of the B.Sc. program, and there are options that allow for a combined major in mathematics and computer science and for a combined major in mathematics and statistics.
Students who graduate from the B.Sc. Honours program will be proficient in high-level abstract mathematical reasoning. The B.Sc. Honours program is excellent preparation for graduate studies and many University of Regina graduates from the program go on to earn M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees at top universities throughout North America.
The answer to this question depends on who is asking the question. Graduates from a mathematics program are logical, creative thinkers. Even if one does not become a "professional" mathematician, the ability to reason at a high level is a skill that can take a person a long way and in a great many directions.
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