Pure Mathematics vs. Applied Mathematics: What Are the Differences?

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It’s no secret that if you ask most students (and adults), they’ll tell you that math is their most hated subject. If you’re one of the few people who love math, want to teach it to others, and are considering a graduate degree in math, you’re in the minority. As Pure Mathematics vs. Applied Mathematics is the focal topic.

However, you’ll be having the last laugh, though, as professionals with math degrees, especially graduate degrees in math, are some of the highest-paid professionals. If you are thinking of getting a math degree, you may need to decide between pure mathematics vs. applied mathematics.

Read on to learn the differences between the two. 

What Is Pure Mathematics? 

One of the best ways of thinking about pure math is “math for math’s sake.” Pure math is the academic study of theoretical math, the methods behind math, and abstract math. Most pure mathematicians work in academic settings or research and development settings. 

Instead of working with real-world scenarios, pure mathematics focuses on more abstract philosophies that don’t have direct real-world applications but are still useful, such as number theory or theoretical physics. While you may not get as much use of pure math skills in the real world, this study of math is still necessary, as there are fields that rely on pure math as its foundation. 

The strongest market for pure math skills is teaching college and university classes, where you might use your skills to teach math in Canvas or another learning management system (LMS). 

What Is Applied Mathematics?

Unlike pure mathematics, applied math is not math for math’s sake. Instead, it is a practical use of math rather than exploring theoretical or abstract math. If you are an applied mathematician, then you are likely to use your expertise for solving real-world problems in disciplines like health care, business, tech, science, and engineering. 

There are typically three main areas of applied mathematics, including statistics, differential equations, and optimization. Applied math also may include coursework in computer science, machine learning, robotics, image processing, and even the hard sciences, like chemistry or physics.

You can use these skills in many different practical fields and having the expertise and degree in this area makes you extremely marketable to prospective employers. 

Also read: Best websites for students

Pure Mathematics vs. Applied Mathematics: Which Is Right for You? 

If you are considering a math degree or what path you want to take with your math skills, deciding between pure mathematics vs. applied mathematics depends on where your strengths lie and what you are interested in.

If the “why” behind math and the theoretical basis of math is what appeals to you, pure math might be for you. If you want to use your skills in the real world to solve problems, then applied math is likely the right choice. 

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out more of our career and lifestyle articles before you go. 

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