When you think of ‘mathematics’, you might think of arithmetic, complex equations chalked on a blackboard, strings of numbers flowing on a computer screen, or maybe logic puzzles and games.
Mathematics is all of these things and more. In fact, maths is all around us, in just about everything we do.
Mathematics is one of the oldest sciences, dating back thousands of years. It studies numbers, shapes, patterns and their relationships, and is fundamental to human logic and thought.
By applying these intellectual qualities, maths forms the building blocks for everyday life. Our food and drink, tools, technology and appliances, clothes and transport, furniture and buildings, streets and roadways, currency and banks, aeroplanes and satellites — all start with maths, and are products of maths.
Branches of maths
Seven branches of maths study
As well as mathematics itself, practically every science-related high school subject requires you to use it. Each of these subjects strengthens maths skills by applying it to practical areas of study.
Physics uses maths as a tool to answer questions. It shows how matter and energy work, and helps us understand and describe the laws governing the physical universe.
Chemistry uses maths calculations to explore its most important concepts, and maths skills are key to chemistry experiments and understanding how chemical reactions work.
Biology uses maths to describe different parts of cells, organs and organisms, and how these interact. Maths is also vital to designing biology experiments and understanding data.
Design and technology
Design and technology depends upon maths skills to accurately plan, design and create different products, and to record and explain how solutions work using data.
IT or ICT
Information and communications technology
ICT uses maths in applications such as spreadsheets, databases and graphics packages. ICT applications also help with practical maths learning.
Computer scienceBinary mathematics (using just two digits, 0 and 1) is the foundation of modern computers, and is the basis of computer science. This is why maths is important to studying machine learning, software engineering and understanding how computers work.
Why study maths?
Maths is perhaps the oldest science, with the earliest examples of written mathematics dating back to the prehistoric era (around 3000 BC), when our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers.
Maths is vital to how humans shape, understand and define the world, and forms the basis for every science and scientific method.
When we use maths in a practical way, it’s called applied mathematics. This is where maths skills and methods are used in scientific fields such as physics, engineering, medicine and biology — as well as in business areas such as finance, economics and accounting.
As our technological world becomes more complex, with greater demands from societies and industries around the world, maths and its skills and insights are more useful than ever.
What are maths skills and how are they useful?
From working out finances to measuring spaces and objects, maths skills are important to life and work.
At its root, maths is problem-solving. Studying maths improves mental agility, and the skills and methods you use to analyse a problem, break it down into chunks and present a clear solution.
In looking at solutions to problems, maths also builds analytical thinking. This is the ability to make sense of a maths problem, break it down and analyse its different parts. It not only helps to reach a logical answer — it helps to explain the solution clearly.
In maths, creativity is key to solving problems and experimenting with ideas. Since maths is built from number patterns, creative thinking can help make new connections and discoveries within those patterns.
Collaboration and communication
In situations where you apply maths to solve a problem (at school and in life), you’ll often work with other people. Teamworking and communication skills are essential to help discuss and analyse problems, share and test ideas, and reach logical solutions.
What careers can you explore through maths?
In a world of numbers, patterns and problems to be solved, maths opens up a world of opportunities. It’s the beginning of many different careers and choices.
Remember this is an overview of just some of the industries and areas you might explore with maths. In a world built from numbers, maths opens up an endless world of opportunities.
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