The study of mathematics and logic as a discipline adds up to a lot more than what you learned in high school algebra. According to the Oxford Dictionary, math is "the abstract science of number, quantity, and space." This system of logic and quantitative reasoning may be abstract in its nature, but its use is fundamental to solving some very concrete problems - it literally structures our world.
The study of math and logic combines the abstract science of numbers with quantitative reasoning that is fundamental in solving concrete problems.
For instance, engineers rely on geometry, calculus, physics, and other mathematical tools to ensure buildings are constructed safely. Computer programmers who create the mapping apps we use to navigate our cities apply problem-solving logic, algorithms, data, and probability to recommend the best route to take at a given time of day. And even "soft science" disciplines like sociology rely on sophisticated statistical regression techniques to draw out insights about the workings of our human world.
Thus, math and logic is important to us all in our daily lives, whether we use it directly in our own work or simply live in the modern world that it makes possible.
If you have great math skills and a deep passion for mathematics in its purest, most abstract form, the answer to this question is obvious: you can become a mathematician. Given the critical importance of math to so many fields, this is an exceptionally in-demand role, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that mathematician jobs will grow by 30% between 2018 and 2028 - one of the fastest rates of any field!
However, you don't have to become a mathematician to use math and logic skills in your career. Virtually all jobs in computer science rely heavily on these skills, since programming is fundamentally about the creation of systems of logic and application of algorithms. So whether you want to go into software development, data science, or artificial intelligence, you'll need a strong background in logic and discrete math as well as statistics.
Math skills are becoming increasingly important for other jobs in both the hard and soft sciences as well. This is due in part to growing opportunities to leverage computer science approaches, particularly data science, to answer pressing questions with findings from larger datasets than ever before. For example, skills in statistical analysis are increasingly central to the work of natural scientists looking for patterns in the growth of certain species populations -- or for epidemiologists studying the spread of public health threats.
Online courses are a popular way to learn about many different topics in computer science, and this format also lends itself well to building your math and logic skills. In fact, many students use online courses to fulfill mathematics prerequisites for advanced computer science degrees.
As with computer science and other areas of study, taking courses online gives you a flexible option to develop the skills you need while continuing to work, study, or raise a family. Online versions of courses are also often significantly less expensive than on-campus counterparts, even in cases where the course material is identical.
Coursera offers a wide range of courses in math and logic, all of which are delivered by instructors at top-quality institutions such as Stanford University and Imperial College London. You can find courses that fit your specific career goals, whether that's broad skills in logic, problem solving, or mathematical thinking, or more specialized areas like mathematics for machine learning or actuarial science.
Coursera also offers short Guided Projects to help you practice and hone your math skills.
The kind of people best suited for roles in math and logic tend to be critical thinkers who like to spend time analyzing subjects and situations. They tend to be problem solvers. Individuals who spend time exploring different types of math to find the areas that interest them also may work well in these roles. You may find that they pay close attention to detail and come up with creative solutions to the problems in front of them.
Common career paths for someone with a background in math and logic can lead to positions as actuaries, corporate executives, auditors, and department supervisors. For example, someone working in the computer programming field may start as a junior developer writing scripts before advancing to a senior developer writing applications. This can lead to a role as a lead developer or system architect and eventually a position as a manager or corporate executive. Similarly, a data analyst may start working as a freelance programmer to build a portfolio and eventually transition to a role as a project manager or department supervisor.
Topics you can study that are related to math and logic include statistics, probability, and algorithms. You also may want to study some of the common programming languages, such as Python, R, and SQL. Other areas to consider are data visualization, informatics, computer science, and data modeling. More topics related to math and logic are game theory and cryptography as well as rhetoric, philosophy, and graphic design.
The types of places that hire people with backgrounds in math and logic include accounting firms, commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms. Private and public schools, universities, and government agencies may also hire people with experience in math and logic. These places typically hire computer programmers, investment managers, teachers, and analysts who feel comfortable working with numbers and have strong problem-solving skills.