Is Majoring in Mathematics Worth It?

Math Major
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Mathematics, an integral part of STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math), trains you in analytical thinking and rigorous problem-solving more than any other discipline. Without the conceptual framework math provides, Galileo and Einstein's scientific achievements would have never happened. Many jobs require such analytical skills. According to the Duke University website, math skills are necessary for a variety of professions, including mathematical modeling, finance, statistics, computer science, cryptography, biotech and teaching.

Mathematical Modeling

Mathematical modeling is used in just about any work that requires you to explain and predict how a real world system behaves. Without mathematical modeling, we wouldn't be able to predict the weather, analyze market behavior or conduct experiments in engineering or physics. In a mathematical model, you might enter the necessary input into an equation to predict what will happen in a certain scenario and adjust your model for more accurate predictions.

Math in Computer Science

Mathematical skills are needed for creating new algorithms in computer science. Without such mathematical advancements, complex applications of computer graphics and the compression of video and audio signals would be impossible. For this reason alone, many computer companies need math majors. Just as in mathematical modeling, issues and problems in computer science are often articulated in mathematical models. In fact, according to the Massachusetts Institution of Technology, many challenges in computer science will be solved in the future by mathematicians skilled in “algebra, analysis, combinatorics [the study of finite or countable discrete structures], logic and/or probability theory, as well as computer science.”

Math in Finance

If you become an investment banker, you'll want to know how the markets will behave in the future. Enter mathematics. Mathematical models are so essential in finance that there is a field of study called Financial Mathematics, which attempts to offer a sense of predictability in market fluctuations. Financial mathematics fuses sophisticated technical and abstract mathematics and theoretic probability for practical applications that impact everyday life. Without that mathematical framework, the foundations for modern finance and the world economy would not exist.

Math in Cryptography

Cryptography is “the making and breaking of secret codes.” Whenever you shop online or do online banking, you do so in a secure environment protected by cryptography. The theoretical underpinnings of recent advancements in cryptography are based on number theory in math, since the basic encryption involves modular arithmetic, prime numbers and probability theory.

Besides these fields, you can find a job in the biotech industry or in teaching math. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2005 salary survey, math majors, after graduation, made 38 percent more in salary than English majors.

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