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Francis Goodburn First year St John’s College


I had always enjoyed the challenge of maths at school, but even when studying the applied mod- ules at A-level, the subject


didn’t feel particularly relevant to everyday life. Conversely, the increasing impact of computers in our lives is very visible – one day they will rule the world! The joint course was the perfect choice. I hadn’t studied any computer science and had only a tiny amount of programming experience before I came, but fortunately the course (and the in- terviews to get in!) assume no knowledge of specifics of computing, just a good ground- ing in maths. Saying that, some knowledge of any programming will come in useful, even though many of the most experienced programmers have never come across the weird and wonderful languages we use in first year!


Mathematics and Statistics S


o you’re thinking about Maths and Stats? Just like the other Mathemati- cians, Maths-and-Stats-ers fall into the gap between the Sciences and Arts. You won’t find whole days of our week spent sweat- ing away in labs, nor will you be lugging a suitcase of books around.


What you will find is that there are plenty of lectures to attend throughout the week - usually two or three per day. These are pretty daunting at first, but you soon get used to just rushing to copy everything down and (if you’re a good student!) thinking about it later. You’ll also get set problem sheets, which will test your un- derstanding of the material delivered, and these will form the body of your work.


What makes Maths and Stats special then? For the first four terms, nothing really! The course is identical to the straight


The maths is a very different style to school – I was shocked to be proving things like -(-a) = a in third week! Also, computer sci- ence is taught differently here in compari- son with some other universities: it is much more theoretical and this suits some (those who love logical thinking and maths) and suits others less (those who are in it for the programming). For me, this is the best thing about the course – you learn a way of thinking, rather than just facts, in both maths and computer science: it’s a course in having the ultimate analytic and logical mind.


The joint degree, rather than straight maths or CS, is not a compromise on level of knowledge or depth though. You simply do a smaller volume of both (I think the hardest/ most interesting bits) but still to the same level as the straight courses. I’d definitely recommend it!


Maths course, which consequently makes it easy to switch between the two courses. After the fourth term, the courses start to diverge slightly. Maths-and-Stats-ers must study some Probability and Statistics throughout their degree, but are offered additional options in Statistical subjects, on top of all or most of the options avail- able to Maths students. In the third and fourth years, there’s a huge variety of op- tions with the opportunity to do a disserta- tion or your own Statistics project in final year.


Because Maths and Stats is a relatively small course (around 30 people per year), you can also expect to get to know some of your fellow students - and that’s when you realise, even though there can, at times, be a fair amount of work, you’ll find Maths- and-Stats-ers getting involved in sport and drama, student politics, journalism, and more, right across the University.


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