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# Something I've always wondered about maths. Watch

1. School maths typically focuses on learning procedures to solve highly stereotyped problems. Professional mathematicians (uni maths) think a certain way to solve real problems, problems that can arise from the everyday world, or from science, or from within mathematics itself. The nature of mathematical truth is governed by predicate logic.

In applied maths, you can use the formulae straight away in order to solve everyday problems. For example, Black-Scholes formula estimates options price. But if you want to learn the theory behind Black-Scholes such as what is the construction of it etc then topology (pure maths) is required which helps to understand the abstract nature of Black-Scholes model & then you may develop your own tools to solve similar problems. Pure maths is abstract and if you see an axiom, lemma, theorem etc and can't find its everyday use then it doesn't mean that it is useless because it is beautiful in its own way, & one day scientists (users) will find a problem in which it can be used.
2. (Original post by FireGarden)
Why is it that so many people require real-world use for mathematics to be interesting? Pure mathematics is far more beautiful as far as results go. For instance, the very fact that the Residue theorem is true is infinitely more interesting than any of its uses, of which there are many.
I'm just way more interested when I can see it happening, I'm sure that there is a use for everything out there, we just don't know it yet. After all maths is the universal language
Pure is nice, but I'm doing physics because I'm interested in that side more, so it would make sense that I'd be better off being more interested in the applied side tbh

It's hard to even decide what is pure/applied nowadays anyway..

(Original post by sbj)
Look, everyone knows the prime numbers, right? 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 ...

They are known for many many hundreds of years.

Until the computer was invented, they had no real use in our world. Just a chain of numbers. So, you would consider it as something which has no real world usage for the past thousand of years.
But now the last 50 years, they are highly used. They are a great usage for encryption. And your internet connection, your phone, computer, and so on, everything today must have encryption to protect the user. Tell me another thing which is used by billion of people? It is literally a use in our world.

And these are just numbers. There are hundreds of pure maths which has a usage today which were not once a time.
So, everything which you consider as it is not used for real world is just the current situation.

And everything which is applied today from the engineers and so on, was once high theoretical stuff until it was used.
Engineers and scientists just use methods of the high theoretical stuff for their goals. They never see the theory behind it, because they are not able to understand it. So they know that what they need to know. Saying pure maths has no real usage is just ridiculous and it shows that you are shallow (I speak in general).

Yeah, there are stuff which just bunch of people understand and there are a lot of things yet they have no usage. But many of those highly theoretical stuff opens new doors for new things and these new things you use someday. So they had a usage for the real world, too.
I didn't say pure maths has no real usage, I'm saying that I'm not really too interested in the pure maths that has no usage yet, it all has a usage but we haven't discovered it, i'm aware of that.

Stop calling me shallow and telling me to get educated.
3. (Original post by Marky Mark)
doing maths on it's own is boring. A maths degree is not really hard.
You have clearly no idea about maths degree.
4. (Original post by Complex solution)
I'm probably as thick as a plank for asking this but this has puzzled me for a while.

Why is it that so many people who take A level maths/further maths, and who call it their favourite subject throughout their studies, end up taking either engineering or medicine degrees?

There must like 4 applicants from my year (including me) who wanted to do a math's degree.

Are they worried about career prospects, prestige or course difficulty?

Somebody give me a hint here
A lot of people take Maths A-Level and intend to go into a variety of non-maths related careers in the arts and humanities; this is great for increasing the number of people who learn relatively difficult maths (compared to their peers in other countries), but it isn't enough for those who want to pursue a career or degree that is very mathematical.

Further Maths bridges that gap - so a lot of people who take FM want to go into the sciences or economics, while a smaller amount actually want to study Maths at university.
5. (Original post by James222)
They may prefer other subjects but dislike the way they are taught at a level ie i like history but hated a level history
How do people know then if the subject is ideal for university?
As in, if our only real experience of each subject is at A level then how do you know if the university course will be any different? (different enough to take it over maths, let's say)

(Original post by James222)
Pure maths is also quite boring nice to mix it up with other modules
But then why don't people apply for courses like 'Maths with physics/economics/chemistry/...'

That way they can feel they have gained some practical knowledge as well.
6. (Original post by TheBBQ)
I'm just way more interested when I can see it happening, I'm sure that there is a use for everything out there, we just don't know it yet. After all maths is the universal language
Pure is nice, but I'm doing physics because I'm interested in that side more, so it would make sense that I'd be better off being more interested in the applied side tbh

It's hard to even decide what is pure/applied nowadays anyway..

I didn't say pure maths has no real usage, I'm saying that I'm not really too interested in the pure maths that has no usage yet, it all has a usage but we haven't discovered it, i'm aware of that.

Stop calling me shallow and telling me to get educated.
You actually did say that
(Original post by TheBBQ)
Maths is my favourite subject at A-level but ive gone for physics (and applied maths) mainly because I'm not interested in the pure mathematics which has no real world use and is only done for the sake of maths. I want to learn all about the stuff that can be applied (which is actually most of it..)
7. (Original post by Hyperplane)
You actually did say that
I worded it badly. I'm not saying all pure maths has no use, I meant the pure maths which has no use as of yet, i wrote that too early
8. This choice basically boils down to the question of preference, really. Things like applicability, difficulty, etc really doesn't matter when you're choosing a degree, it's mainly what you find interesting. And by the way, I would never say maths is any easier nor harder compared to any other degree - it just requires a different skill set.

I'm going to start my degree this October, but I recently decided to change from Computer Science to Maths. I loved the notions of building abstractions for systems which initially made me initially consider CS, but I didn't like the technical details of implementing these ideas and I realized I wanted to do maths instead where these abstract ideas are studied in further detail. Other people however may find these abstractions unintresting, to quote an XKCD comic, "math's just physics unconstrained by precepts of reality."

I also felt that for CS, you didn't get the same kind of problem solving - at least not as much. I felt the same thing when I was doing IB HL physics, but I felt I first extracted the mathematical problem from the question, then solved it. Some may have had some interest in the end result (what the solution implies), but I was far more interested in the problem solving process.

Reading this thread is rather interesting though, because I personally don't understand someone who loves a different subject. This is probably also the reason for the large amount of disagreement and I suspect it is also causing people to make arguments that aren't actually true in a lot of ways.
9. Because dentistry is more enjoyable but that wasn't an option to take at A-level.

Dentistry also offers better career prospects.
10. Knowing that the maths your are doing is applied to understanding a real world phenomena is more interesting imo.
11. Maths was my favourite a level subject but I still opted to do medicine because that was my ultimate goal after A levels. It was simply an enjoyable means to an end.

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12. My experience was quite the opposite. I came into year 12 planning to study medicine with Biology, Chemistry, Physics,Further Maths and Maths as my A level options, with plenty of work experience placement arranged.
But after reading through various maths books over the past year, I have now firmly decided that I want to study Maths at University and will be applying this October. I didn't know that Maths could be so interesting and difficult.
13. I absoluely adored Maths and Further Maths at A-Level. Even now, I enjoy them. Sometimes I practise my maths skills by doing old A-Level or STEP papers (it's important for me because you'd be surprised at how quickly you can become rusty) and I actually find it fun

And yet, this time last year, I dropped out of my Maths degree at Warwick. Lots of reasons really, but I wasn't kicked out before anyone asks! My assignments were in the 70-95% range. I just wasn't enjoying myself. I've firmed an offer to start a CS degree there in the autumn.

The answer is: they are really different. They're almost different subjects in a way. Enjoying A-Level like I did is not equivalent to enjoying it at degree. Some people may like the idea of doing something with their maths rather than proving everything from the bottom up, which is basically what degree maths is.
14. I love math but hate proof ect. Which there is a lot of at uni. Also I think all math for 3/4 years would drive me insane

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15. (Original post by Complex solution)
I'm probably as thick as a plank for asking this but this has puzzled me for a while.

Why is it that so many people who take A level maths/further maths, and who call it their favourite subject throughout their studies, end up taking either engineering or medicine degrees?

There must like 4 applicants from my year (including me) who wanted to do a math's degree.

Are they worried about career prospects, prestige or course difficulty?

Somebody give me a hint here
They love math because its one way in helping them to achieve their dream degree. Also they love USING math, not LOVING math.

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Updated: July 13, 2014
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