Mathematical Sciences

A World of Options to Students Who Major in Mathematical Sciences

Study mathematical sciences and watch doors open across industries and sectors, whether private, governmental, or academic. Entirely new areas of mathematical sciences are continually being created, and existing areas are reinvigorated as surprising connections are discovered to the physical, biological, and social sciences, to computer science, as well as to engineering, business, industry, and finance. Not surprisingly, many mathematical sciences students are double majors, who seek to apply mathematics to problems in their other fields.

Recent graduates have embarked on careers in business and industry (e.g., Microsoft Corporation, Raytheon Company, Polaroid Corporation, MITRE Corporation, Fidelity Investments, Aetna Insurance, and Sun Life Financial) or have entered graduate school (e.g., Purdue University, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, WPI) in such diverse disciplines as mathematics, statistics, law, management, physics, nuclear engineering, civil engineering and education.

Through a hands-on, project-oriented curriculum that emphasizes research and problem solving, WPI’s Mathematical Sciences Department prepares students to apply their knowledge and skills to confidently take on real-world challenges—and make a profound difference in both their industries and in the world, whether they immediately embark on careers or do so after graduate school.

Mathematical Sciences are divided into four areas of interest:

Algebraic & Discrete Mathematics

Algebraic & discrete mathematics play an important role in formulating and solving problems in a variety of fields ranging from ecology to computer science. Graph theory has been used to study competition of species in ecosystems, to schedule traffic lights at an intersection, and to synchronize parallel processors in a computer. Coding theory has been applied to problems from the private and public sectors where encoding and decoding information securely is the goal.

Computational & Applied Analysis

This area of mathematics concerns the modeling and analysis of continuous physical or biological processes that occur frequently in science and engineering. With the increase in computational power, many models previously too complicated to be solvable, can now be solved numerically. Students interested in this area should have a solid background in analysis that includes the ability to analyze ordinary and partial differential equations through both analytical and computational means.

Operations Research

Operations research is an area of mathematics that seeks to optimally solve complex problems that arise in conducting and coordinating the operations of modern industry and government. Problems within the scope of operations research methods are as diverse as finding the lowest cost school bus routing that still satisfies racial guidelines, deciding whether to build a small plant or a large plant when demand is uncertain, or determining how best to allocate timesharing access in a computer network. Problems are usually solved by creating, then analyzing a mathematical model. Often, the problem requires a statistical model, and nearly always the analysis—whether optimizing through a set of equations or simulating the behavior of a process—involves the use of a computer.

Probability & Statistics

In many areas of endeavor, decisions must be made using information that is known only partially, or has a degree of uncertainty attached to it. One of the major tasks of the statistician is to provide effective strategies for obtaining the relevant information and for making decisions based on it. Probabilists and statisticians are also deeply involved in stochastic modeling – the development and application of mathematical models of random phenomena. Information about careers in statistics can be found at the American Statistical Association's website.