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Mathematics Postgraduate Personal Statement

Example Mathematics Postgraduate Personal Statement

“Number is the within of all things.” – Pythagoras

Coming from China, an ancient seat of mathematical discovery, I have always been fascinated by the application of mathematics in our everyday lives. Although we have long moved on from rod calculus and early algorithms, new ways to use and understand mathematics are constantly discovered through study. Computing is perhaps the most significant example of mathematics’ relevance to the world around us; and having been inspired by the study of Maths and Further Maths at A-Level, I embarked on my undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Computer Science at Royal Holloway, where the complex and integral links between the two disciplines have deepened my desire to work in the field of applied mathematics. I am enthused to take a postgraduate course with a focus on the future and frontiers in applied mathematics, which constantly evolves in line with growing and changing fields of study as diverse as biology, ecology and business.

A family tragedy interrupted my undergraduate study in my 1st year and impacted on my 2nd year performance, but I have still managed to gain my highest marks in Algorithms & Complexity I and II, and have also taken the opportunity to study intriguing topics including software engineering and mathematical programming. As I code Java programs in my spare time, design and programming have always been interests of mine, and my degree has allowed me to appreciate mathematical models utilised in some of the most complex systems designed in recent memory, namely the RSA algorithm which brought public key cryptography into the future through using number theory and applied maths. It is fascinating to me that this algorithm depends upon another, OAEP, as padding; the very crux of this integral cryptography model is based on number theory, illustrating the power of maths to protect and interpret data, and the infinite potential of maths to preserve such systems through constant monitoring and evolution by skilled practitioners. The variables and theories used to construct models, such as exponential logistic function, are used in fields as wide and yet interlinked as demography, economics, sociology and probability, exemplified by the Malthusian model, and the concurrent study of population ecology. As I have always been interested in statistics, I would be able to seriously consider a career in an economic or ecological field through studying such models. The application of maths allows us to express our world and how and why it changes, as well as putting into practice methods to keep it operating. The use of case studies on a postgraduate program would not only consolidate my mathematical knowledge, but allow me to directly interpret specific fields of interest to forge a career.

The opportunity to study the mathematics of Computer Science extends the possibilities of my future pursuits to exciting new avenues. From learning the specialist algorithmic skills required to develop the computing field, to areas of research such as biomedical engineering, I am aware of the increasing role of computing in industries and am particularly keen on using and developing my practical skills in an area of interest such as software engineering, in order to methodically realise a design from creative conception to execution. The in-depth understanding of graphical languages such as UML to complete this process will give my mathematical modelling abilities practical focus. The implications of modelling in software engineering are clear to see; I was recently struck by news of the updated Enteric Immunity Simulator at Virginia Tech, which has recently been developed to model immune responses to bacteria within animal and human bodily systems, in order to aid research into pathogen effects on the digestive system. The fact that medical conditions can be effectively modelled through a combination of mathematical and scientific skill and application is, to me, one of the most exciting implications of applied mathematics and it exemplifies the increasing potential of computer systems to take steps toward realistic human simulation. The related development of an optimal algorithm for determining focus errors both in human eyes and cameras is similarly fascinating, as until now this information was only available in vivo. It is my belief that however small each step toward progress may be, each is still exciting and significant, and I can think of no more rewarding occupation than using my mathematical, computing and problem-solving abilities to help drive innovations in our most forward-thinking industries.

My experiences travelling in Europe and the USA gave me the confidence to take full advantage of studying in the UK, and I am keen to continue my studies at a UK university with a view to make my future career in this country. As a Hong Kong Chinese with a British passport, I feel I have a unique and broad outlook on the world and am keen to pursue a career in a truly global area of research. I have found studying for my undergraduate degree in the UK an enriching experience, and have sought to retain links with my home country to maximise my personal development. I gained work experience as an executive assistant for a local business in China in 2010 and enjoyed seeing the application of mathematics in commerce. This inspired me to work as an assistant purchasing clerk at the World Fair International this summer, and also enabled me to develop my communication skills with clients, colleagues and customers, as well as take on a position of responsibility. I was a member of the Boy Scouts throughout secondary school, and became adept at both teamwork and independent leadership through self-motivation and a problem-solving approach. Although computing and mathematics can be solitary work, the opportunity to work as part of a team to overcome problems, and combine expertise to create new innovations, appeals to my love of working with other people and learning from those around me. In my spare time, I enjoy reading world news, and going to the gym for relaxation.

The above quotation from Pythagoras encapsulates why I have always loved maths: it comprises some of the oldest and newest ideas and models in human thought, and particularly in the computing field, is at the root of international security, economy and innovation. The possibilities of applied mathematics and specifically computer science are limitless; unprecedented developments in medicine, business and finance underline this and the constant challenges and changes within my field convince me daily that it would be uniquely rewarding and worthwhile. Above all, a deeper study of modelling techniques would equip me to help forge new frontiers myself; and I feel I have the potential to rise to the challenges ahead.

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