Applied Maths is, as its name suggests, the study of practical applications of mathematics to the real world and physical problems. It is typically associated with engineering and physics, but also finds use in economics, finance, business, environmental studies, and even chemistry and medicine.
The Applied Mathematics course at Leaving Certificate would be called 'Theoretical Mechanics' or 'Mathematical Physics' in third level education, and it is one of many branches of the more general field of Applied Mathematics.
The course essentially covers the mathematics behind the behaviour of objects when placed in various situations, such as being thrown as projectiles, bounced off walls or other objects, immersed in fluids, or swung around on a rope. There are 10 questions on the exam paper, each covering one of these topics in detail. However, the exam only requires the student to complete six questions, so it is not uncommon for teachers to focus on six or seven topics, which makes the course and workload more manageable.
The course tends to avoid theory-heavy questions (such as proofs and manipulating formulae) which are found on the Mathematics paper, instead offering practical problems with numerical solutions, such as computing the volume of fluid in a container, or finding the optimal angle to throw a projectile at so that it will travel as far as possible. As a result, Applied Maths is excellent for developing strong problem solving skills, which are very valuable for future employment.
Applied Maths is useful for careers such as Engineering, Physics, Construction and Architecture.
Noel Cunningham MSc, BSc, HDipEnvEng, HDipEd (TCD)