Contrary to popular belief the M.Sc. (Hons.) Mathematics course at BITS is actually quite wholesome and comparable to courses at institutes like the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) and the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) which are solely focused on Math, given the constraints of the dual degree system. The math program can be quite rigorous, with some of the courses introducing you to Pure Mathematics, and often require a great deal of time and effort from the student’s side.
Though in the first year, all courses are common, it is of importance for you to pay careful attention to the math courses in your first two semesters that is, Math-I, Math-II and Probability and Statistics, this will certainly make it easier to tackle the tougher math courses in the coming semesters.
The first semester of your second year will be your first introduction to rigorous and proof-based mathematics courses in the form of Algebra-I, Elementary Real Analysis, while Optimization and Discrete Mathematics will quench your thirst for application based mathematics hence taking a balanced approach. In your second semester, Operations Research will be a very important course, which along with optimization forms the basis of risk analysis. Along with Discrete Mathematics, Graphs and Networks will make the crossover between Mathematics and Computer Science very clear, though these courses will provide a more theoretical approach to the some of the data structures and algorithms used in Computer Science. Mathematical Methods will introduce you to a myriad of computational methods which will be used in other courses including those in your engineering degree. Further, Measure and Integration is like a succession to Real Analysis and is a branch of pure mathematics.
In your third year, Numerical Methods, an introduction to approximation techniques, will be an important course, which along with Mathematical Methods finds applications in engineering. For an in depth analysis of differential equations to not just learn the methods but understand how they came about and the theories behind them, there exist two courses i.e Partial Differential Equation and Ordinary Differential Equations. Topology and functional analysis can be grouped together, as both talk about the different kinds of spaces, operators and their applications. In addition to these a variety of electives from Number Theory and non-linear optimization, which are completely application based fields to Complex analysis and Algebra-II, which are theoretical.
While the courses will be taught in a theoretical manner, it is easy to see that the methods taught here are can be integrated very seamlessly with all different engineering degrees, not only in terms of applications but also in understanding the foundations of a lot of theories. While, Computer Science and Math is the most preferred combination, interest must take priority as math find its applications in all fields, from Finite Element Method and Calculus of Variations in Mechanical Engineering to Linear Algebra in Signals and Systems.
A question often asked is, what do mathematicians do? Well, they are equipped to do just about anything, because they can apply their gained knowledge set to every problem and even things which never seemed like problems in the first place. Other than the dual degree which of course opens placement options, there are a variety of career options available. The course structure at BITS is just enough to provide you with an overview of the subject. The vastness of math is unfathomable and to even attempt to leave one’s mark, years, often decades of study is required. Mathematicians try to constantly expand the boundaries of mathematics and refine existing systems, so research is one possible option. Research options come in the form of a PhD which enables you to focus your research in a particular direction. With your background in mathematics, you will also be applicable for an Engineering Master’s Programme in a lot institutes in India and the USA, for example a masters in Computer Science after an MSc. in mathematics is a very vibrant combination, not only for job prospects but also for further research in fields like theoretical computer science among others. In fact a lot of famous computer scientists started off as mathematicians and the reverse is true as well, for example Donald Knuth, a game changer in Computer science has a PhD. in mathematics. However there are a lot of other career options for mathematicians, one of these is actuarial sciences, which has been declared as the premier jobs by many surveys and involves risk analysis for insurance, finance and a multitude of professions. A lot of companies like banks rope in mathematicians for statistical analysis.
The truth, however, is that most of the on campus placements for Mathematics students take place based on their dual degrees not realizing their true potency as mathematicians. Mathematics opens up a world of options, as it allows you to unlock every secret of the universe, and with such beauty that it feels like new light has been shed onto the world changing the way you look at it. The only thing which matters is how and where you choose to apply it.