The Pondicherry University offers PG and research programmes in mathematics. “While the need for mathematicians is on the rise, interest in the subject is declining.”

Mathematics, with its multi-disciplinary applications and expanding employment avenues, remains a fascinating subject for many students, and has been witnessing a rising demand over the years.

“Mathematics is a unique subject. Every subject has its own merits and mathematics has its own fascination for many students. The scope of the subject is definitely widening. It is theorem-proof, an aspect that other subjects do not have,” says A.M.S. Ramasamy, Professor and Head, Department of Mathematics, Pondicherry University.

With about 70 classifications at present, new areas in mathematics are being anticipated in future, he says, adding, “Algebra, number theory and geometry are classical branches of mathematics. Fuzzy mathematics, a concept which came in 1965, has spread into a separate subject within mathematics and is used in washing machine application. Similarly, cryptography and coding theory are the recent branches with a lot of applications.”

The university offers M.Sc., M.Phil. and Ph. D in mathematics, besides a five-year integrated M.Sc. Mathematics for students who have completed Class XII. “There is a good demand for the courses. This year, we received double the number of applications for the courses than last year,” notes Professor Ramasamy.

Mostly, students who complete studies in mathematics opt for teaching and research. But mathematics has applications in various disciplines including software, social sciences and management.

“For instance, Graph Theory has applications in various branches and so fetches immediate placement for students, while Cryptography has applications in the computer industry. Operation Research has applications in management. Every department requires the services of at least one mathematics teacher. Social sciences, computer science, economics, commerce and management require mathematicians,” he says.

While the demand for the courses in mathematics is on the rise, interest in the subject is declining, says N. Gururajan, Director of Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for Post-Graduate Studies. “The subject has a good intake but knowledge of mathematics and innovative skills is poor among students. Schools are not motivating students to innovate in maths,” he says. The centre has been offering M.Sc. and M. Phil in mathematics and plans to introduce Ph.D soon.

“Mathematics is an interesting subject and plays a vital role in various fields. But the thirst to take up higher learning is missing in students. There are plenty of opportunities for innovative work in the subject. In fact, the job opportunities are good for the subject,” he observes.

Job avenues for the mathematicians are available in space science, banking sector, cost management, teaching and research. “Very few students take up higher studies in mathematics. The subject requires plenty of innovation. Students should aim for high-level competitive examinations,” he says.

Professor Ramasamy says “Apart from the regular classroom teaching, we have included laboratory practicals for mathematics. We need to switch over to lab sessions to enable students to get a good grounding in the subject. Most of the mathematical subjects are abstract. But there are possibilities for computations. We should give students an exposure to such areas.”