Discrete mathematics is quickly becoming one of the most important areas of mathematical research, with applications to cryptography, linear programming, coding theory and the theory of computing. This book is aimed at undergraduate mathematics and computer science students interested in developing a feeling for what mathematics is all about, where mathematics can be helpful, and what kinds of questions mathematicians work on. The authors discuss a number of selected results and methods of discrete mathematics, mostly from the areas of combinatorics and graph theory, with a little number theory, probability, and combinatorial geometry. Wherever possible, the authors use proofs and problem solving to help students understand the solutions to problems. In addition, there are numerous examples, figures and exercises spread throughout the book.
For most students, the first and often only course in college mathematics is calculus. It is true that calculus is the single most important field of mathematics, whose emergence in the seventeenth century signaled the birth of modern mathematics and was the key to the successful applications of mathematics in the sciences and engineering.
But calculus (or analysis) is also very technical. It takes a lot of work even to introduce its fundamental notions like continuity and the derivative (after all, it took two centuries just to develop the proper definition of these notions). To get a feeling for the power of its methods, say by describing one of its important applications in detail, takes years of study.
If you want to become a mathematician, computer scientist, or engineer, this investment is necessary. But if your goal is to develop a feeling for what mathematics is all about, where mathematical methods can be helpful, and what kinds of questions do mathematicians work on, you may want to look for the answer in some other fields of mathematics.