# Introduction

The Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Boston University offers programs in the area of pure and applied mathematics and in the area of statistics that lead to the Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. In addition, there are special programs such as joint concentrations in mathematics and philosophy, mathematics and economics, mathematics and computer science, and mathematics and mathematics education.

Mathematics plays a critical role in our efforts to understand the nature of the physical universe and in the continuing development of our technological society. There is also a long tradition that recognizes the value of mathematics for its aesthetic appeal to the human spirit. Many students of the liberal arts decide to study mathematics for one or both of these reasons. Students also study mathematics in order to develop critical reasoning skills that can significantly contribute to many personal goals. Of course the study of mathematics can lead directly to interesting employment opportunities in the mathematical sciences and to future study in graduate school. Within the last few years the frenetic pace of research and development in computers and high technology has led to strong new imperatives for more mathematical expertise, and the need to nurture a new generation of mathematically competent men and women has never been more crucial.

All mathematics starts with a question and proceeds to an answer. A rather artificial division into pure and applied areas within mathematics refers only to the source of the question. Questions from number theory and logic are called pure, unless they relate to establishing secure coding schemes. Questions from biology and finance are called applied, unless they require a fundamental rethinking of the underlying mathematical structures employed. Mathematics is a construct of the human mind that gives us a way to model and understand the world around us.

At Boston University the entire spectrum of fields is well represented. Within the Department of Mathematics & Statistics there are strong groups of faculty in statistics, dynamical systems, number theory, and geometry. In addition to the faculty’s strong research interests, there is an equally strong desire to provide instruction of the highest quality.