Take MATH 1715 (Precalculus) or MATH 1613 (Plane Trigonometry) as part of the general education requirements if you have not completed the high school equivalent of College Algebra or Plane Trigonometry.
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What is Mathematics?
“Mathematics is the queen of the sciences,” according to Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), one of the most prolific mathematical innovators of all time. Mathematics is most simply defined as the study of the relationships obtaining amongst pure quantities. Mathematics historically attracts to its “royal court” many of the world’s finest thinkers, including “household names” (Euclid, Archimedes, Cantor, Fermat) as well as those whose extraordinary ingenuity continue to inspire a more elite coterie (Erdős, von Neumann, Gödel).
The persistency of its challenges occasionally generates hundreds of years of intense intellectual labor on the offhand commentary of “mere” marginalia (as in the case of the notorious “Fermat’s last theorem”). Coupled with the enticing potential of witnessing, for the first time ever with human eyes, a previously undiscerned universal truth, mathematics continues to intoxicate the countesses/earls, duchesses/dukes, dames/knights, (and, occasionally, serfs and court jesters) of the mathematical community.
As the fundamental tool of theoretical physics, mathematics constitutes an indisputably essential discipline for technological progress. Without mathematics, humanity could not feasibly comprehend the subtleties and implications underlying such phenomena as electromagnetism, radioactive decay, telecommunications, or even such simple devices as the ratchet-and-pawl or pulley system, integral to demonstrating basic ideas in classical mechanics.
The standard of mathematics—rigorous proof justifying what we call “mathematical certainty”—maintains the torch of intellectual integrity as a beacon of hope to wayfarers on those oft’ tempestuous seas known as the “empirical sciences” (physics, chemistry, engineering). Mathematics provides a universal link connecting the various peoples and places of Earth in common pursuit of humanity’s ever-present goals: Goodness, beauty, and truth.
Mathematics is the study of numbers and shapes and their many connections. These connections bring about more complex structures and areas of study such as graphs, functions, sets, probability, statistics, geometry, algebra, and calculus. The investigation of the connections found in mathematics is a vital and integral part of the subject because it hits on the process of mathematics. Mathematical thinking is based on logical reasoning, abstraction, generalization, and critical thinking. Logical proof ties the connections of mathematics together with a certainty that is exceedingly rare in other fields of human endeavor.
The mathematical way of thinking is what makes mathematics a subject worthy of study from the earliest grades through college. That is why there is a need for good mathematics teachers and all types of employers benefit from hiring a person who has attained the discipline of mathematical thinking.