Monday, November 27, 2006

Mathematics


Mathematics (colloquially, maths, or math in American English) is the body of knowledge centered on concepts such as quantity, structure, space, and change, and the academic discipline which studies them; Benjamin Peirce called it "the science that draws necessary conclusions".[1] It evolved, through the use of abstraction and logical reasoning, from counting, calculation, measurement, and the study of the shapes and motions of physical objects. Mathematicians explore such concepts, aiming to formulate new conjectures and establish their truth by rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions.

Knowledge and use of basic mathematics have always been an inherent and integral part of individual and group life. Refinements of the basic ideas are visible in ancient mathematical texts originating in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ancient India, and Ancient China with increased rigour later introduced by the ancient Greeks. From this point on, the development continued in short bursts until the Renaissance period of the 16th century where mathematical innovations interacted with new scientific discoveries leading to an acceleration in understanding that continues to the present day.

Today, mathematics is used throughout the world in many fields, including science, engineering, medicine and economics. The application of mathematics to such fields, often dubbed applied mathematics, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and has sometimes led to the development of entirely new disciplines. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics for its own sake without having any practical application in mind, although applications for what begins as pure mathematics are often discovered later