Could you predict an economic crisis? How many prime numbers are there in a certain interval? How do we calculate the limit of an infinite series of function values?
Mathematicians love difficult questions and models underpinned by theoretical foundations. Over the centuries, mathematics has made an important contribution to technological progress, and it is still a crucial part of research into important issues such as the climate crisis.
Obviously, parts of the degree programme in Mathematics are similar to the mathematics that you studied at secondary school. However, you will also discover new areas such as algebra (number theory and coding), dynamical systems (how predictable is the weather?) and systems theory.
Some people choose to study Mathematics because its diversity appeals to them. Others recognize the social relevance of mathematics, and choose to do research. Other students enjoy Mathematics simply because it involves solving abstract problems.
The University of Groningen offers degree programmes in both
Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. The first year is largely the
same for both Bachelor’s programmes, during which you explore
the programmes and gradually work towards your specialization. It
is still possible to switch programmes in the second year.
Within the degree programme in Mathematics, you can choose between two specializations:
- General Mathematics
- Probability and Statistics
This three-year programme in Mathematics is an international Bachelor’s degree programme. All of the course units are taught in English, which gives Mathematics an extra dimension as many of your fellow students and lecturers will come from abroad.
A lot of freedom in organizing my study time
Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to study mathematics and to make a career out of it. This was determined by my passion to transform real-world problems into mathematical questions and to solve them in a rigorous way.
I wanted to move from Moldova to the Netherlands for my Bachelor’s degree because of the country’s advanced and modern educational system. I picked Groningen because of the highly accredited university here, and it seemed like the best fit for me given that this city is very accommodating to both Dutch and international students.
If I were to pick the best feature of my degree programme, it would be the possibility to study at my own pace. Most of the time, I have a lot of freedom in organizing my study time. This has taught me to be more self-organized and has given me the feeling that everything is within my reach—it just takes determination and hard work.
At the moment, I am working on my Bachelor’s thesis, and I am really excited about how it is turning out. The thesis will provide an in-depth statistical analysis of the Dutch housing market indicators, which could be further used by experts in the field to solve the incredibly worrying dynamics of this sector in the Netherlands.
During my free time, I like to play with my cat Keanu or to practise one of my hobbies, which include playing tennis, reading, fishing, cycling, roller skating, and playing chess. In the past year, I have worked in a couple of positions within the University of Groningen, which has shown me the other side of the educational process.
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.
Na mijn studie wilde ik heel graag praktisch aan de slag. Zodoende heb ik twee jaar lang in Capelle a/d IJssel gewerkt als consultant bij Alten, een bedrijf in technische consultancy en engineering. Hier deed ik hoofdzakelijk ontwikkeling van software (Fortran, C++) voor Shell.
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.
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