Discrete mathematics is the study of mathematical structures that are fundamentally discrete rather than continuous. In contrast to real numbers that have the property of varying "smoothly", the objects studied in discrete mathematics – such as integers, graphs, and statements in logic – do not vary smoothly in this way, but have distinct, separated values. Discrete mathematics therefore excludes topics in "continuous mathematics" such as calculus and analysis. Discrete objects can often be enumerated by integers. More formally, discrete mathematics has been characterized as the branch of mathematics dealing with countable sets (sets that have the same cardinality as subsets of the integers, including rational numbers but not real numbers). However, there is no exact, universally agreed, definition of the term "discrete mathematics." Indeed, discrete mathematics is described less by what is included than by what is excluded: continuously varying quantities and related notions. The set of objects studied in discrete mathematics can be finite or infinite. The term finite mathematics is sometimes applied to parts of the field of discrete mathematics that deals with finite sets, particularly those areas relevant to business. Research in discrete mathematics increased in the latter half of the twentieth century partly due to the development of digital computers which operate in discrete steps and store data in discrete bits. Concepts and notations from discrete mathematics are useful in studying and describing objects and problems in branches of computer science, such as computer algorithms, programming languages, cryptography, automated theorem proving, and software development. Conversely, computer implementations are significant in applying ideas from discrete mathematics to real-world problems, such as in operations research. Although the main objects of study in discrete mathematics are discrete objects, analytic methods from continuous mathematics are often employed as well. Discrete mathematics is the branch of mathematics dealing with objects that can assume only distinct, separated values. The term "discrete mathematics" is therefore used in contrast with "continuous mathematics," which is the branch of mathematics dealing with objects that can vary smoothly (and which includes, for example, calculus). Whereas discrete objects can often be characterized by integers, continuous objects require real numbers. The study of how discrete objects combine with one another and the probabilities of various outcomes is known as combinatorics. Other fields of mathematics that are considered to be part of discrete mathematics include graph theory and the theory of computation. Topics in discrete mathematics
Complexity studies the time taken by algorithms, such as this sorting routine. Theoretical computer science includes areas of discrete mathematics relevant to computing. It draws heavily on graph theory and logic. Included within theoretical computer science is the study of algorithms for computing mathematical results. Computability studies what can be computed in principle, and has close ties to logic, while complexity studies the time taken by computations. Automata theory and formal language theory are closely related to computability. Petri nets and process algebras are used to model computer systems, and methods from discrete mathematics are used in analyzing VLSI electronic circuits. Computational geometry applies algorithms to geometrical problems, while computer image analysis applies them to representations of images. Theoretical computer science also includes the study of continuous computational topics such as analog computation, continuous computability such as computable analysis, continuous complexity such as information-based complexity, and continuous systems and models of computation such as analog VLSI, analog automata, differential petri nets, real time process algebra. Information...
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