The Roles of Mathematics

Opportunities for mathematics

In telephone interviews and site visits, we heard many views about opportunities for new applications of mathematics. A selection of these, grouped by business area, is listed here.


Product design: Materials: Environmental management: Information science: Recent graduates interviewed by telephone indicated that they saw substantial new opportunities for mathematics in industry and government. Computing, electronics, and software were listed by 32% of the Ph.D.'s, financial analysis by 30%, engineering by 28%, and operations research by 20%. The master's graduates selected the same categories in the top four with different frequencies. Only 11% of the Ph.D.'s and 6% of the master's graduates thought that opportunities for mathematics were very limited.

The managers surveyed had a similar outlook: 59% thought that there are definitely or probably opportunities in their own organizations for increased contributions from mathematics. (Those seeking such opportunities will find suggestions in articles like [Ben94, Davis94, Davis95].) Only 17% of managers thought that there were definitely or probably no additional opportunities for mathematics in their organizations.

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