Over the centuries, mathematics has made an important contribution to technological progress. It is crucial to research and solve current issues, such as the climate problem.
Obviously, parts of the Mathematics degree programme are
similar to mathematics as it is studied at secondary school. But
you will also discover new areas such as algebra (number theory and
coding), dynamic systems (how predictable is the weather?) and
systems theory. Over the centuries, mathematics has made an
important contribution to technological progress. It is still
crucial to researching and solving current issues such as the
Mathematics is a multifaceted subject and an international bachelor. All courses are taught in English which gives Mathematics in Groningen an extra dimension as many of your fellow students and teachers will come from abroad. Some people choose to study Mathematics because its diversity appeals to them. Others perceive the social relevance of mathematics, and choose to do research. And there are students who enjoy Mathematics precisely because it involves solving abstract problems.
Within the Mathematics programme you can choose between General Mathematics and Probability & Statistics. In General Mathematics, the emphasis is on the theoretical aspects of mathematics. Probability & Statistics focuses, as the name already suggests, on probability and statistics and and its applications.
The University of Groningen offers degree programmes in Mathematics as well as Applied Mathematics. Year 1 is largely the same for both degree programmes, and you can switch between them if you wish. You gradually work towards your specialisation.
Mathematics fascinates me
'Mathematics fascinates me. I love it when a seemingly far-fetched relationship actually works in practice.
I enjoy the tutorials the most, because you can try things out for yourself. Learning mathematics is really a question of practice. Some of the theorems are very challenging, so it’s really satisfying if you manage to figure them out. We often work together on more difficult problems, which is a good way to get to know each other. I’ve also met a lot of people through the FMF study association and my student association. Although it’s not compulsory, I go to all the lectures and tutorials. This keeps you busy and helps you understand the theory, which makes the exam a lot easier.’
Studying ice caps
Leo wanted to do practical work after graduating in Applied Mathematics. He spent two years with Alten, a technical and engineering consultancy, where he developed software in Fortran and C++ for Shell. Last year he set a new course and he now works at Utrecht University where he is studying the changes in the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps using climate models.
Dit heb ik met veel plezier gedaan, maar het begon op een gegeven moment weer te kriebelen en ben ik iets nieuws gaan zoeken. Tegenwoordig ben ik promovendus aan de Universiteit Utrecht, waar ik onderzoek doe naar veranderingen in de Groenlandse en Antarctische ijskappen in het recente verleden (1850-nu). Voor dit onderzoek maak ik gebruik van data-assimilatie technieken en klimaatmodellen.
In beide banen heb ik veel profijt van mijn goede wiskundige basis en de programmeervaardigheden die ik tijdens mijn studie Technische Wiskunde heb opgedaan. Verder heb ik één jaar van mijn master doorgebracht in Zürich, Zwitserland. Ik heb daar verschillende interessante dingen geleerd, maar het is tevens een terugkerend gespreksonderwerp geweest bij sollicitatiegesprekken. Het is, vermoed ik, op veel plaatsen een pre als je cv niet helemaal standaard is.
I've got to know a lot of companies that I might happily work for later!
'There's so much to do in Groningen! And there's plenty to do at our Faculty too.
Mathematics and Applied Mathematics are interesting enough as it is, but I also did the Honours College, where you follow additional lectures and projects outside your own specialist area. I am also an active member of the FMF, the study association for students of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Physics, Applied Physics, Computer Science and Astronomy. You can learn a lot, experience how an educational or commercial organization works, and you get to meet a lot of people. The highlight for me was a year on the board of the study association, which was exhilarating and enlightening. Each year, the FMF organizes lectures, site visits and excursions, as well as get-togethers and film evenings, which all help strengthen the bond between you and your fellow students. It’s fun and a good way to prepare for life after university. For example, I’ve got to know a lot of companies that I might happily work for later!
Maike Jaspers - Applied Mathematics
Find out more about depression
'I am exploring statistical models that we can use to find out more about depression, together with other experts such as physicians, psychologists and epidemiologists. This makes the work pleasantly varied'.
During my Master’s programme I specialized in probability and statistics, which is obviously very useful for this job. Thanks to my mathematical background, I learn new techniques easily. What you don’t learn in Mathematics are skills such as meeting and communicating with other scientists. I don’t think you need to offer all these skills in a degree programme; you can learn them by participating in activities outside your programme. I was a member of a study association and a student association, where I learnt organizational skills, and also enjoyed the social side of student life. This was very important for my personal development and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!’
Stijn de Vos - PhD student with the UMCG's psychiatry
Talk to the people who are already working in the field
I like maths since I was a child. Unlike other subjects, it's more 'doing' and less memorizing facts.
At this moment. I’m working as a PhD candidate in mathematical statistics. I spend around 75% of my time on research: reading articles, trying things out, programming and appointments with my supervisor. 25% of time is spent on teaching: preparing exercises/solutions for the class, giving tutorials, and grading assignments/exams. I also often go to presentations/seminars/conferences.
As a PhD candidate, I daily use the mathematical and statistical knowledge that I learned during my study. But, I think the most valuable thing that I learned during my study is how to think critically and logically. In my Bachelor’s thesis, I analyzed social, geographical, and lexical influences on Dutch dialect pronunciations. For this, I used ‘generalized additive mixed model’ which is a flexible method that can be used to analyze non-linear relationships.
When I was a student, I wondered how it would be to work at a company/university and what kind of skills I would need. Now looking backwards, the way I imagined it was very different from how it’s really like. Try to get a real glance of things that you want to do after your study. You can for example talk to the people who are already working in that field.
Vinnie Ko - PhD University of Oslo