Using Math in the Real World

The Department of Mathematics is excited to introduce a new degree program in Applied and Computational Mathematics (ACME). Beginning Fall Semester 2013, this new mathematics emphasis will enable undergraduate students to be better prepared to use their mathematical and computational skills in a way that can be applied to real-world problems. 

ACME will offer students a tightly integrated combination of coursework and computer labs, along with a capstone project and a close mentoring with faculty. Students will be admitted into the two-year core curriculum at the beginning of their junior year, so interested students are highly encouraged to prepare early by taking all the required prerequisites during their freshman or sophomore year (Math 290, 313, 334 & 341).

The Applied and Computational Mathematics Emphasis gives students the opportunity to learn and apply what they are learning in both core courses and labs. The core courses will help students develop skills in math modeling, math analysis, and algorithm design. The labs will teach students technologies for big data problems and high performance computing.

The new curriculum consists of eight credits per semester of advanced undergraduate coursework in mathematics, statistics, and computation. In addition, students will fulfill an emphasis requirement in one of several areas in the pure and applied sciences; examples include economics, finance, operations research, actuarial science, physics, chemistry, computer science, geoscience, business analytics, biostatistics, and several areas in engineering. 
Dr. Jeff Humpherys, an associate professor, is the program coordinator directing the launch of this new emphasis. 

“(The program) provides the right skill set for students to learn and helps them to do very well right out of the gate,” Humpherys said.

The new emphasis was created after the success of BYU’s Interdisciplinary Mentoring Program in Analysis, Computation and Theory (IMPACT program) that was started six years ago.  IMPACT is a program that allows students to learn, apply and grow in the pure and applied sciences through high-quality research. More information about this group can be found at

“You have to have deep theoretical understanding to be able to keep up with the pace of technology,” Humpherys said. “This emphasis prepares students for graduate placements.”

Humpherys said none of the students from the IMPACT group struggled with finding jobs or pursing doctorate degrees. Students from the program have had offers from Goldman Sachs, Adobe, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, National Security Agency, and many small start-up companies.

One of the greatest advantages the Applied and Computational Mathematics Emphasis will offer students is the ability to expand their skillset. Students will learn computer programming, relational databases, numerical simulation, and scientific visualization. These skills are invaluable in the current industry. 

Enrollment for the Applied and Computational Mathematics Emphasis is first come, first-serve, as only 40 students can fit in a classroom. Again, students are encouraged to take the prerequisites as early as possible since acceptance occurs only once a year.