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Today, the term "applied mathematics" is used in a broader sense. It includes the classical areas noted above as well as other areas that have become increasingly important in applications. Even fields such as number theory that are part of pure mathematics are now important in applications (such as cryptography), though they are not generally considered to be part of the field of applied mathematics *per se*. Sometimes, the term "applicable mathematics" is used to distinguish between the traditional applied mathematics that developed alongside physics and the many areas of mathematics that are applicable to real-world problems today.

There is no consensus as to what the various branches of applied mathematics are. Such categorizations are made difficult by the way mathematics and science change over time, and also by the way universities organize departments, courses, and degrees.

Many mathematicians distinguish between "applied mathematics”, which is concerned with mathematical methods, and the "applications of mathematics" within science and engineering. A biologist using a population model and applying known mathematics would not be *doing* applied mathematics, but rather *using* it; however, mathematical biologists have posed problems that have stimulated the growth of pure mathematics. Mathematicians such as Poincaré and Arnold deny the existence of "applied mathematics" and claim that there are only "applications of mathematics." Similarly, non-mathematicians blend applied mathematics and applications of mathematics. The use and development of mathematics to solve industrial problems is also called "industrial mathematics".^{[3]}

The success of modern numerical mathematical methods and software has led to the emergence of computational mathematics, computational science, and computational engineering, which use high-performance computing for the simulation of phenomena and the solution of problems in the sciences and engineering. These are often considered interdisciplinary.

Historically, mathematics was most important in the natural sciences and engineering. However, since World War II, fields outside the physical sciences have spawned the creation of new areas of mathematics, such as game theory and social choice theory, which grew out of economic considerations.

The advent of the computer has enabled new applications: studying and using the new computer technology itself (computer science) to study problems arising in other areas of science (computational science) as well as the mathematics of computation (for example, theoretical computer science, computer algebra, numerical analysis). Statistics is probably the most widespread mathematical science used in the social sciences, but other areas of mathematics, most notably economics, are proving increasingly useful in these disciplines.

Academic institutions are not consistent in the way they group and label courses, programs, and degrees in applied mathematics. At some schools, there is a single mathematics department, whereas others have separate departments for Applied Mathematics and (Pure) Mathematics. It is very common for Statistics departments to be separated at schools with graduate programs, but many undergraduate-only institutions include statistics under the mathematics department.

Many applied mathematics programs (as opposed to departments) consist of primarily cross-listed courses and jointly appointed faculty in departments representing applications. Some Ph.D. programs in applied mathematics require little or no coursework outside mathematics, while others require substantial coursework in a specific area of application. In some respects this difference reflects the distinction between "application of mathematics" and "applied mathematics".

Some universities in the UK host departments of *Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics*,^{[4]}^{[5]}^{[6]} but it is now much less common to have separate departments of pure and applied mathematics. A notable exception to this is the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, housing the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics whose past holders include Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, James Lighthill, Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking.

Schools with separate applied mathematics departments range from Brown University, which has a large Division of Applied Mathematics that offers degrees through the doctorate, to Santa Clara University, which offers only the M.S. in applied mathematics.^{[7]} Research universities dividing their mathematics department into pure and applied sections include MIT. Brigham Young University also has an Applied and Computational Emphasis (ACME), a program that allows student to graduate with a Mathematics degree, with an emphasis in Applied Math. Students in this program also learn another skill (Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, Pure Math, etc.) to supplement their applied math skills.