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What is discrete math?

Discrete math is not so much a topic by itself. It would be better described as a branch of mathematics that covers a large variety of topics, each one with its own distinct characteristics. For those that understand mathematics in some detail, discrete math only deals with distinct and separated values and objects, i.e. integers.

Several branches of mathematics fall under the umbrella of discrete math: Combinatorics, Theory of Computation and Graph Theory are just some of these topics. There are certain topics in the number theory too that can be clubbed under discrete math. These topics would be recurrence relations and congruences. The study, efficiencies and implementations of algorithms are often included in discrete math courses.

Why study discrete math?

Discrete math has become essential in almost every field of science and therefore if you are contemplating a career in fields that have anything to do with the science, discrete mathematics will take you a long way. Discrete math gives you the background and the basic grounding for solving operation-based problems that you could encounter while doing research in subjects like biology, engineering and chemistry. Discrete math is especially popular with students that wish to make a career in the field of computers and computer programming.

Take for example something as simple as the functioning of your computer itself. The basic functioning of this complex machine depends on one very simple aspect – the electrical input or impulse. This electrical impulse is used with other more complex elements in various combinations that define the functions of the computer. Added to this is the fact that an electrical impulse is either there or it is not, there is no “in between”. This makes it a distinct value and therefore ideal for the application of discrete math.