Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space and change.  Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures.  Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proof.  Through the use of abstraction and logical reasoning, mathematics developed from counting, calculation, measurement and the systematic study of the shapes and motions of physical objects.  Practical mathematics has been a human activity for as far back as written records exists.  Albert Einstein [1879-1955] stated that “as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality”.

Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine and the social sciences.  Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries, which have led to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory.  Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind.  There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

There are five strands in mathematics:

Subjects can be viewed from our curriculum page.

Head of Department:  Steve Murphy

Contact details: or telephone 453 6035.


Participation Respect Inquiry Diversity Environment

500 Kaikorai Valley Road
Dunedin, New Zealand
Tel +64 3 453 6035
Fax +64 3 453 1602