Applied mathematics has become something of a trending topic this year. But what exactly is it, and what kind of jobs can you land with a degree in it?
The Director of Data Science & Technology at IE University, Fernando Mateo, tells us everything we need to know about this exciting and versatile area of learning.
What is math, anyway?
To understand what applied mathematics is, we should first start by asking ourselves what mathematics is. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, mathematics can be understood as, “the study of numbers, shapes, and space using reason and usually a special system of symbols and rules for organizing them.” Thus, due to its nature, people trained in mathematics develop an exceptional skill set which includes analytical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving and very precise communication abilities. These skills are very desirable—not only at the personal level, but also to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Nonetheless, society doesn’t always see math alone as useful in real-world applications, which is why the field of applied mathematics has emerged.
So what is applied mathematics?
If we describe it in mathematical language, we could say that applied mathematics = mathematics + specialized knowledge. Namely, applied mathematics is the application of mathematical models and techniques to solve problems in fields as diverse as: physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, engineering, sustainability and more. Therefore, applied mathematics takes rigorous, logical and robust mathematical thinking and channels it into tackling real-world problems, changing the world on a daily basis.
The impact of applied mathematics in society
The importance of applied mathematics in our society cannot be understated. Simply take a look around you. Applied mathematics can be found behind the algorithms that govern our life, from the logistical methods that facilitate the efficient delivery of products to your home, to the ranking algorithms behind your favorite search engine.
Applied mathematics is used to elaborate and understand mathematical models for biology, the stock market, weather forecasting, decision making in business… you name it. Mathematics is also at the core of the AI-based tech revolution that we are experiencing today, and is a pivotal tool in the analysis of huge amounts of data.
Job opportunities in applied mathematics
The success of applied mathematics in our society is reflected in an increasing number of job opportunities for applied mathematicians around the world. The positions offered include data scientist, consultant, actuary, researcher, system and application analyst, and finance analyst, among many others. Applied mathematicians are able to adapt quickly to new situations, making them not only very well suited for the current job market, but also a perfect match for the jobs of the future, regardless of what the future holds.
Applied mathematics at IE University
Mathematics is one of the oldest degrees out there. But while pure math is well established in today’s university curriculum, the teaching of applied mathematics is still a very challenging task, due to the endlessness of the topic’s theory and application. To that end, IE University opts to combine a solid mathematical core with a strong orientation towards specific applications, where transversality and interdisciplinarity play a key role.
Why is that? While the foundations of math are taught with the highest rigor, what really makes the difference is the impact that IE University students can make in the real world. Members of our community have already left their mark in different applied fields such as business, artificial intelligence and economics.
Within the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics, IE University proposes five different specializations:
- Health and Biology: deals with topics like biostatistics, epidemiology, computational biology or mathematical medicine.
- Economy: focuses on the applications of mathematics in topics like econometry, microeconomy, and market and international monetary flow.
- Banking and Finance: uses abstract mathematical concepts and methods like temporal series and optimization to solve problems in investment, management or trading.
- Energy and Sustainability: supplies the necessary combination of mathematics and computer science to address the challenges posed by energy systems: resource optimization, waste management, forecasting, etc.
- Operations Research and Automation: leverages optimization, statistics, and mathematical analysis to design optimal decision-making mechanisms and automation procedures that can be applied in different fields, like robotics or industry.
Given the broad spectrum of possible directions a student can take in this degree, a key point of IE University’s philosophy is to provide a personalized approach to education. Students are encouraged to explore their own path through different elective subjects, internships and other initiatives designed to customize their experience.
Moreover, the program fosters entrepreneurship, the interconnection with human sciences, and the interaction with a global society. Students learn in an international environment that encourages valuable connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. IE University also has several agreements with renowned universities around the world so that students enjoy an even richer academic offering.
What role does technology play in all this?
IE University recognizes the fundamental role of tech in its degree. Technology is a pivotal part of applied mathematics, both as a problem and a solution. More precisely, many mathematical models are so complex, that often, they can only be studied using state-of-the-art techniques that require the latest technological advances. At the same time, the design of algorithms to be used for different recurrent problems is carried out through modern mathematical techniques. The Bachelor in Applied Mathematics includes a broad spectrum of subjects that will train students both in the use and design of the techniques, as well as their analysis and understanding.
Become a valuable asset with the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics
Graduates from the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics at IE University will be able to model challenging problems in mathematical terms, and use math and computational resources to understand and predict the behavior of complex systems. These individuals will know how to meet the needs of the new world of work, becoming an asset for any company in any sector. If you’d like to learn more about the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics, visit the program’s webpage.