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Portal:Mathematics

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Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

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A number is an abstract entity that represents a count or measurement. A symbol for a number is called a numeral. The arithmetical operations of numbers, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are generalized in the branch of mathematics called abstract algebra, the study of abstract number systems such as groups, rings and fields.

Numbers can be classified into sets called number systems. The most familiar numbers are the natural numbers, which to some mean the non-negative integers and to others mean the positive integers. In everyday parlance the non-negative integers are commonly referred to as whole numbers, the positive integers as counting numbers, symbolised by . Mathematics is used in many classes throughout the course of one's education.

The integers consist of the natural numbers (positive whole numbers and zero) combined with the negative whole numbers, which are symbolised by (from the German Zahl, meaning "number").

A rational number is a number that can be expressed as a fraction with an integer numerator and a non-zero natural number denominator. Fractions can be positive, negative, or zero. The set of all fractions includes the integers, since every integer can be written as a fraction with denominator 1. The symbol for the rational numbers is a bold face (for quotient).

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animation illustrating the meaning of a line integral of a two-dimensional scalar field

A line integral is an integral where the function to be integrated, be it a scalar field as here or a vector field, is evaluated along a curve. The value of the line integral is the sum of values of the field at all points on the curve, weighted by some scalar function on the curve (commonly arc length or, for a vector field, the scalar product of the vector field with a differential vector in the curve). A detailed explanation of the animation is available. The key insight is that line integrals may be reduced to simpler definite integrals. (See also a similar animation illustrating a line integral of a vector field.) Many formulas in elementary physics (for example, W = F · s to find the work done by a constant force F in moving an object through a displacement s) have line integral versions that work for non-constant quantities (for example, W = ∫C F · ds to find the work done in moving an object along a curve C within a continuously varying gravitational or electric field F). A higher-dimensional analog of a line integral is a surface integral, where the (double) integral is taken over a two-dimensional surface instead of along a one-dimensional curve. Surface integrals can also be thought of as generalizations of multiple integrals. All of these can be seen as special cases of integrating a differential form, a viewpoint which allows multivariable calculus to be done independently of the choice of coordinate system. While the elementary notions upon which integration is based date back centuries before Newton and Leibniz independently invented calculus, line and surface integrals were formalized in the 18th and 19th centuries as the subject was placed on a rigorous mathematical foundation. The modern notion of differential forms, used extensively in differential geometry and quantum physics, was pioneered by Élie Cartan in the late 19th century.

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