XDG standard: Is Math a Science

James Richard Tyrer tyrerj at acm.org
Wed Feb 11 01:57:10 EET 2004

Sri Ramkrishna wrote:
>> Some US universities even have their departments named that way: (e.g.
>>  http://www.uncg.edu/mat/)
>> So AMS, MAA, MSRI, Gauss, etc... all think it's a science.  Who 
>> doesn't think it's a science again?
> At purdue, we have a mathematical sciences building.  My father believes
>  math is a science and is a big part of his research. (eg uses 
> mathematics to solve chemical engineering problems)

Yes, this is a valid point.  However, I believe that "mathematical
sciences", is an academic usage.  It is probably a common academic usage,
but what we need to consider is the common usage.

> That being said, whats exactly the purpose fo this thread?

To discuss the menu structure which is implicit in the standard.

> WHy don't we all agree to disagree or whatever is.

Because it has to be one way or the other.

> I mean it seems pretty idiotic to discuss endlessly about whether
> mathematics is a science considering it's is the foundation of all the
> other sciences (eg physics, chemistry, all require mathematics)  It's a
> requirement.  So lets move on.

You miss the point.  The question is of common usage.  Specifically, do 
most people consider Math a subdivision of Science or a separate 

I don't see why Math should be a sub-menu of Science.  I think that it, 
like Engineering, should be a separate category.

And I did try:

	mathematical science

in Google.  I got 2.9 Million compared to 4.3 million for:

	mathematics science

Perhaps this isn't the most scientific :-) method, but I think that 
considering Math a field separate from Science is the best choice based on 
common usage -- and common usage, not quotes from famous mathematicians is 
what matters here.

We should also consider that not putting it under Science will probably not 
cause any problems.  But, putting it under Science might cause a problem 
with people that don't regard it as a Science.


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