Malaysia University Portal

Listing of Universities and Colleges in Malaysia

Academic Guide : Mathematics

Posted on | January 11, 2011 | Comments Off on Academic Guide : Mathematics

Origin of Mathematics

The origin of Mathematics was believed to come from mankind’s primitive counting systems which were probably based on using fingers. The earliest mathematical records date to the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians of 3000 B.C. In Greece, mathematics was advanced by Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras of Samos through the invention of abstract mathematics, founded on a logical structure of definitions, axioms, and proofs. The earliest practical use of mathematics was done in situations involving trading, measuring the area of land, measuring time to determine the arrival of seasons, works of art, and patterns used to weave objects, such as baskets.

Modern Applications of Mathematics

Mathematics is a universal language of sciences and arts. It leads to perhaps more diverse potential fields than any other discipline because it is the language through which nature, technology and reality is described. It is the study of measurement, properties, changes and the relationships of quantities using numbers and symbols. Thus it is fundamental for almost every sphere of knowledge and activity in the modern world. The clearest example of math’s disruptive power is in advertising. There Google and other search companies built on mathematics and logarithm are turning an industry that grew on ideas, hunches, and personal relationships into a series of calculations. With the help of mathematics, they know where their prospective customers are browsing, what they click on, and often, what they buy. Another example of modern use of Mathematics is in the Human Genome project. Mathematicians enabled researchers to complete The Human Genome Project quickly. As more of the world’s information is pooled into mathematics and because of the prevalence of the computer at work and at play, mathematicians will continue to touch everyone in modern society and the realm of numbers becomes an ever larger meeting ground. 

Branches of Mathematics

Every area of Mathematics has its own unique applications to the different career options. For example, Algebra is very essential for computer science, cryptology, networking, study of symmetry in Chemistry and Physics. Calculus (including differential equations) is applied in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Engineering, the motion of water (hydrodynamics), rocket science, molecular structure, option price modeling in Business and Economics models, and so forth. Mathematicians’ work is divided into two large classes. They are theoretical or pure mathematics and applied mathematics. Theoretical mathematicians increase mathematical knowledge by creating novel principles and discovering unknown correlations or relationships between principles in math that are already in use. On the other hand, applied mathematics is the study of mathematical aspects that arise in the physical, biological, and social sciences, engineering, economics, business, and other areas of human endeavor. Applied mathematicians start with a practical problem, envision its distinctive elements, and then decrease the elements to mathematical variables. Mathematics is a four-year degree.

As mathematics has a wide spectrum and versatile applications, the career prospects for mathematics graduates are excellent since there is a constant demand for people with strong skills in mathematics. Advancements in technology typically cause expansion in mathematics, needing an increased number of knowledgeable workers in mathematics in the future.

Making Mathematics Your Career

According to Careercast.com, in their 2010 jobs survey, six of the top ten best jobs are based on mathematics. Details on the math jobs are listed. In a CNNMoney article, it is stated that insiders say the undergraduate degree in mathematics remains a solid springboard for career advancement especially when coupled with courses in computer science or economics. The final criterion comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, which states that employment for mathematicians, especially those with advanced degrees, is expected to increase by 22% between 2008 and 2018, “much faster than average for all occupations.” While teaching, academic research, and government research labs continue to hire a large number of math graduates, students with math degrees also find great career opportunities in many other sectors, including finance, insurance, and pharmaceutical industry.

There is a demand for high level skills in mathematics across a very wide range of fields from astronomy, petroleum and nuclear through to medicine, many forms of engineering and many varied government departments. Typical employers include research firms, aerospace and oil companies, electronic and biomedical equipment manufacturers, communications laboratories, school systems and investment banking firms. Computer software companies are prime employers, and insurance companies seek mathematicians for actuarial work.

Here is a list of potential jobs in Mathematics:

  • Aircraft Designer
  • Researcher or Consultant
  • Animator/Animatronics
  • Astronaut/Pilot
  • Actuarist
  • Biomathematics
  • Biomedical Researcher
  • Cryptographer
  • Econometrician
  • Lecturer
  • Financial Analyst
  • Geophysical Model Designer
  • Information Technologist
  • Market Researcher/Analyst
  • Mathematician
  • Meteorologist
  • Numerical Analyst
  • Physicist
  • Research Scientist
  • Risk Analyst
  • Software Engineer
  • Statistician
  • Systems Programmer/Analyst

Attributes and Skills of a Successful Mathematician

To be successful in the field of Mathematics, it will be helpful to possess the following traits:

  • Analytical mind, critical thinking & problem-solving skills.
  • Clear and logical reasoning and deduction skills
  • Enjoy learning and applying concepts and formulas
  • An appreciation for abstract thinking
  • Possess good communication skills to explain complex concepts to lay people.

Comments

Comments are closed.