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Department of Mathematics & Statistics

About the Department of Mathematics and Statistics

To understand the world we live in we invent models of aspects of it. To investigate the models from a theoretical perspective we need Mathematics. To test the models we often need Statistics, especially when the models involve the element of chance. Thus together, Mathematics and Statistics provide the foundations for the theoretical and experimental methods used in the biological, health and physical sciences, as well as the newer economic and social sciences. We welcome you to the department at the University of Otago devoted to the teaching and study of these foundations.

Teaching goals

The Department has three basic teaching goals:

  • To provide the background and foster the intellectual development expected of a Mathematics or Statistics major or honours student.
  • To meet the needs of students of other disciplines by providing mathematical or statistical training that adds value to their major interests.
  • To provide a supportive environment at all levels in which the first two goals may be achieved.

In 2014 there were almost 2700 enrolments in Mathematics and Statistics papers, and 18 registered graduate students in the Department. Students from every background imaginable come to the Department for tuition. Papers range from the most basic to a level that allows post-graduate study. Many of our students have joined graduate schools abroad or returned to their native countries. The majority have stayed in New Zealand, some to pursue postgraduate studies, while most have left University to enjoy successful employment in jobs as different as being a meteorologist or an actuary.

The Department aims to provide a friendly and stimulating atmosphere. Regular seminars are held, often given by visitors to the Department but also by its own staff and graduate students.

Where are we?

The Departmental offices and most staff offices are located on the second floor of the Science III building (next to the St David Lecture Theatre) at the corner of Cumberland Street and St David Street. Access to the building and all floors is suitable for wheelchair users. The Science Library, conveniently part of Science III, provides excellent study facilities and access to reference material between classes. Also on the ground floor of Science III is one of the University of Otago’s larger Computer Aided Learning (CAL) labs.