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Mathematics specialisations explained

Mathematics
Math is everywhere — it tells stories, solves problems, powers entertainment platforms, and so much more. Source: Andrew H. Walker / AFP

Mathematics tells stories, solves problems, powers entertainment platforms, and so much more. It impacts real-world problems – as well as the solutions to those problems. From everyday tasks such as counting and shopping, to more detailed mathematical problems such as interpreting data, we use Maths everywhere. 

It is challenging, rewarding and fun. It’s both logical and creative. A Mathematics degree prepares students for traditional pursuits such as graduate study, teaching and work as an actuary. As well as developing a rigorous mindset, it introduces you to new Mathematical concepts and delves into areas you won’t have explored at school.  

It is a particularly valuable skill, applicable to many exciting career paths. Mathematicians are in high demand in many sectors, so you can take your passion for all things mathematical into almost any field you choose. It gives you skills that you can use across other subjects and apply in many different job roles. 

Here are three Mathematics specialisations explained for your better understanding:  

mathematics

Working with numbers is challenging, rewarding and fun. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

Applied Mathematics

This programme covers a broad spectrum of topics, from abstract methods to numerical computation. It also emphasises application to real-world problems. This specialisation involves both in-depth Mathematical understanding and basic knowledge of other subjects, depending on the chosen area of expertise. 

Applied Mathematics encompasses the use of probability theory; numerical and data analysis; modeling; algorithm development; and simulations to explore the connections between maths, science, and our environment. It is used extensively in the fields of physics, geology, engineering and technology.

Computational Mathematics

Have you always been fascinated by computers and the complex Mathematical algorithms governing their processes? Majoring in Computational Mathematics will expose you to the core principles of how computers are used to solve and run everyday things such as the internet, various common technologies and the application of scientific theory to practice. 

Computational Mathematics has wide-ranging applications in both the public and private sectors. More recently, in this era of ever-present and cheap computing power, there has been an explosion in the number of problems that require us to understand processes by modelling them, and to use data sets that are large.

Discrete Mathematics

In order to be able to formulate what a computer system is supposed to do; or to prove that it does meet its specification; or to reason about its efficiency, you need the precision of Mathematical notation and techniques. For instance, to specify computational problems precisely, you need to abstract the details and then use Mathematical objects such as sets, functions, relations, orders, and sequences. 

Discrete Mathematics draws on areas of both computer science and maths. It has increasing application in many areas, an example of which is the understanding of DNA sequences in molecular biology. You will acquire skills in software engineering, combinatorial analysis, formal proof and algorithmic analysis. Topics include sets and functions, counting principles, discrete probability, Mathematical induction, linear recurrence relations, and graphs.