Number Theory (An Introduction to Mathematics, Part A)
April 15, 2019
Undergraduate courses in mathematics are colnmonly of two types. On the one hand there are courses in subjects, such as linear algebra or real analysis, with which it is considered that every student of mathematics should be acquainted. On the other hand there are courses given by lecturers in their own areas of specialization, which are intended to sellre as a prepasation for research. There ase, I believe, several reasons why students need more than this. Fhst, although the vast extent of mathematics today makes it impossible for any indvidual to have a deep knowledge of more than a small part, it is important to have some understanding and appreciation of the work of others. Indeed the sometimes su~prising intei-relationships and analogies between different branches of mathematics are both the basis for many of its applications and the stimulus for further development. Secondly, different branches of mathematics appeal in different ways and require different talents. It is unlikely that all students at one university will have the same interests and aptitudes as their lecturers. Rather, they will only discover what their own interests and aptitudes are by being exposed to a broader range. Thirdly, many students of lnathematics will become, not professional mathematicians, but scientists, engineers or schoolteachers. It is useful for them to have a clear understanding of the nature and extent of mathematics, and it is in the interests of mathematicians that there should be a body of people in the coinmunity who have this understanding.