What is Mathematics?

Mathematics is one of the four basic sciences, the other being Physics, Chemistry and Biology. It is the abstract science of number, quality and space studied in its own right as pure mathematics or as applied to other disciplines such as physics, engineering etc. (applied mathematics).

Mathematics represents a core of knowledge concerned with understanding natural phenomena and has many applications in our day to day life. It can be studied for its own intrinsic value as a purely academic subject or for its practical applications. A course in mathematics is also useful for a career in the field of Management, Computers, Information Technology and Operational Research.

What do I have to do?

Mathematicians seek out patterns whether found in numbers, space, science, computers, or in imaginary abstractions. It was originally of limited use in industry but has come into its own with the advent of high speed computers. Technical advances (for example space exploration and bio-technology) would have been impossible without the use of computers to solve complex equations and do large-scale data processing. The use of formula, statistics and mathematical models has been of enormous benefits to industry. It has revolutionised business and commerce, and such management tasks as accounting, resource management and operational research. Mathematics also has applications in actuarial science, economics, financial and market research analysis, meteorology and oceanography to name a few.

Theoretical mathematicians advance mathematical knowledge by developing new principles and recognizing previously unknown relationships between existing principles of mathematics. Although they seek to increase basic knowledge without necessarily considering its practical use, such pure and abstract knowledge has been instrumental in producing or furthering many scientific and engineering achievements. Many theoretical mathematicians are employed as university faculty, dividing their time between teaching and conducting research.

Applied mathematicians, on the other hand, use theories and techniques, such as mathematical modeling and computational methods, to formulate and solve practical problems in business, government, and engineering and in the physical, life, and social sciences. For example, they may analyze the most efficient way to schedule airline routes between cities, the effects and safety of new drugs, the aerodynamic characteristics of an experimental automobile, or the cost-effectiveness of alternative manufacturing processes. Applied mathematicians working in industrial research and development may develop or enhance mathematical methods when solving a difficult problem. Some mathematicians, called cryptanalysts, analyze and decipher encryption systems designed to transmit military, political, financial, or law enforcement-related information in code.

Some professionals, including statisticians, actuaries, and operations research analysts, actually are specialists in a particular branch of mathematics.

What should I study?

You should have studied Mathematics at the Plus Two Level. For pursuing this subject, you need clear logical thinking, analytical ability, strong curiosity and determination to solve mathematical problems, patience and accuracy.

The syllabus includes Matrix Theory, Sequences and Series, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus and Differential Equations, Vector Calculus, Plane Geometry, Algebra, (Group Theory, Ring Theory and Vector Spaces), Mechanics, Statics and Dynamic of a Particle etc.

What are the prospects?

A course in mathematics is an excellent springboard for a number of rewarding career options.  Mathematics is used extensively in physics, actuarial science, statistics, engineering, and operations research. Computer science, business and industrial management, economics, finance, chemistry, geology, life sciences, and behavioral sciences are likewise dependent on applied mathematics. Mathematicians also should have substantial knowledge of computer programming, because most complex mathematical computation and mathematical modeling are done on computers. Some of the career options are –

Teaching and Research is a major area of work. For this, you would have to do your M.Sc in Mathematics followed by MPhil and Ph.D. The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai is a national institute for fundamental research in frontier disciplines of the mathematical and physical sciences: Theoretical Computer Science, Mathematics, and Theoretical Physics. The Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, is known for the research facilities in Maths. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai has a school of Mathematics involved in Research. The Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata is also renowned for Research in Mathematics.

Another career opening is in the field of Software development. After B.Sc Maths you can do your Masters in Computer Application (MCA) or Masters in Information Technology (MIT) or Masters in Computer Science.

The B.Sc degree in Mathematics trains you to use Maths as a tool for solving practical and theoretical problems. You can specialise in Operational Research (OR) which is sometimes called the Science of Decision Making. It involves applying mathematical and statistical methods to complex systems to understand how they work and to develop and improve them. OR is of particular use where large logistic problems are concerned, for example in national government for defense, transport, systems planning, hospital design, oil production, mining and large scale manufacturing.

Advanced level mathematics is not a subject everyone can tackle with ease. Therefore, those with an aptitude for Maths and an interest in the subject can make it big through their meaningful contribution in teaching and research or in the applied fields of Operational Research and Computers.

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in a different country, so if you are a wizard at Maths, you should go for it !

Where should I study?

The IITs and BITS Pilani offer five year integrated courses in mathematics after Plus Two.

B. Sc. MATHEMATICS – The top Colleges / Institutes











Integrated programmes are offered by:

  • NISER offers a 5-year integrated M.Sc. Programme.
  • Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER) Pune offers an integrated BS-MS programme in Mathematics
  • The School of Natural & Applied Sciences at the Ashoka University, NCR offers a four- year undergraduate programme, where students can choose ‘pure majors’ in the third year or stay flexible by majoring in inter-disciplinary programmes.
    Programmes at Ashoka meet international standards and are delivered in collaboration with world renowned institutions. These institutions send faculty members to Ashoka, offer exchange programmes for students and conduct joint research.