The main reason for studying mathematics to an advanced level is that it is interesting and enjoyable. People like its challenge, its clarity, and the fact that you know when you are right. The solution of a problem has an excitement and a satisfaction. You will find all these aspects in a university degree course. You should also be aware of the wide importance of Mathematics, and the way in which it is advancing at a spectacular rate. Mathematics is about pattern and structure; it is about logical analysis, deduction, calculation within these patterns and structures. When patterns are found, often in widely different areas of science and technology, the mathematics of these patterns can be used to explain and control natural happenings and situations. Mathematics has a pervasive influence on our everyday lives, and contributes to the wealth of the country. The importance of mathematics
The everyday use of arithmetic and the display of information by means of graphs, are an everyday commonplace. These are the elementary aspects of mathematics. Advanced mathematics is widely used, but often in an unseen and unadvertised way. •The mathematics of error-correcting codes is applied to CD players and to computers. •The stunning pictures of far away planets sent by Voyager II could not have had their crispness and quality without such mathematics. •Voyager's journey to the planets could not have been calculated without the mathematics of differential equations. •Whenever it is said that advances are made with supercomputers, there has to be a mathematical theory which instructs the computer what is to be done, so allowing it to apply its capacity for speed and accuracy. •The development of computers was initiated in this country by mathematicians and logicians, who continue to make important contributions to the theory of computer science. •The next generation of software requires the latest methods from what is called category theory, a theory of mathematical structures which has given new perspectives on the foundations of mathematics and on logic. •The physical sciences (chemistry, physics, oceanography, astronomy) require mathematics for the development of their theories. •In ecology, mathematics is used when studying the laws of population change. •Statistics provides the theory and methodology for the analysis of wide varieties of data. •Statistics is also essential in medicine, for analysing data on the causes of illness and on the utility of new drugs. . •Travel by aeroplane would not be possible without the mathematics of airflow and of control systems. •Body scanners are the expression of subtle mathematics, discovered in the 19th century, which makes it possible to construct an image of the inside of an object from information on a number of single X-ray views of it. Thus mathematics is often involved in matters of life and death. These applications have often developed from the study of general ideas for their own sake: numbers, symmetry, area and volume, rate of change, shape, dimension, randomness and many others. Mathematics makes an especial contribution to the study of these ideas, namely the methods of •precise definitions;
•careful and rigorous argument; representation of ideas by many methods, including symbols and formulae, pictures and graphics; •means of calculation;
•and the obtaining of precise solutions to clearly stated problems, or clear statements of the limits of knowledge. These features allow mathematics to provide a solid foundation to many aspects of daily life, and to give a comprehension of the complexities inherent in apparently quite simple situations. For these reasons, mathematics and calculation have been associated from earliest times. In modern times, the need to perform rapid mathematical calculations in war time, particularly in ballistics, and in decoding, was a strong stimulus to the development of the electronic...