Portal:Discrete mathematics
Introduction
Discrete mathematics is the study of mathematical structures that are fundamentally discrete rather than continuous. In contrast to real numbers that have the property of varying "smoothly", the objects studied in discrete mathematics – such as integers, graphs, and statements in logic – do not vary smoothly in this way, but have distinct, separated values. Discrete mathematics therefore excludes topics in "continuous mathematics" such as calculus or Euclidean geometry. Discrete objects can often be enumerated by integers. More formally, discrete mathematics has been characterized as the branch of mathematics dealing with countable sets (finite sets or sets with the same cardinality as the natural numbers). However, there is no exact definition of the term "discrete mathematics." Indeed, discrete mathematics is described less by what is included than by what is excluded: continuously varying quantities and related notions.
The set of objects studied in discrete mathematics can be finite or infinite. The term finite mathematics is sometimes applied to parts of the field of discrete mathematics that deals with finite sets, particularly those areas relevant to business.
Research in discrete mathematics increased in the latter half of the twentieth century partly due to the development of digital computers which operate in discrete steps and store data in discrete bits. Concepts and notations from discrete mathematics are useful in studying and describing objects and problems in branches of computer science, such as computer algorithms, programming languages, cryptography, automated theorem proving, and software development. Conversely, computer implementations are significant in applying ideas from discrete mathematics to real-world problems, such as in operations research.
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A labeled graph on 6 vertices and 7 edges |
Applications of graph theory are generally concerned with labeled graphs and various specializations of these. Many problems of practical interest can be represented by graphs. The link structure of a website could be represented by a directed graph: the vertices are the web pages available at the website and a directed edge from page A to page B exists if and only if A contains a link to B. A graph structure can be extended by assigning a weight to each edge of the graph. Graphs with weights, or weighted graphs, are used to represent structures in which pairwise connections have some numerical values. For example if a graph represents a road network, the weights could represent the length of each road. A digraph with weighted edges in the context of graph theory is called a network. Networks have many uses in the practical side of graph theory, network analysis (for example, to model and analyze traffic networks).
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Did you know?
- ...that there are precisely six convex regular polytopes in four dimensions? These are analogs of the five Platonic solids known to the ancient Greeks.
- ...that the Catalan numbers solve a number of problems in combinatorics such as the number of ways to completely parenthesize an algebraic expression with n+1 factors?
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Topics in Discrete mathematics
Major areas | Combinatorics | Graph Theory | Game theory |
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Related portals
Algebra | Analysis |
Category theory |
Computer science |
Cryptography |
Discrete mathematics |
Logic | Mathematics |
Number theory |
Physics | Science | Set theory | Statistics |