Connecting theory with applications: mathematical sciences and computer science

Man in a lab coat in front of microscope

With an outstanding track record of integrating theoretical developments in mathematical and computer sciences with real applications, the University of Waterloo continues to lead in transformational research.

New frontiers of knowledge that cut across a diverse set of traditional disciplines are changing the world, and sophisticated mathematical and computational methodologies and tools play a critical role.

Waterloo is leading advanced research in many fields including fundamental contributions in foundational areas of mathematical sciences such as combinatorics, algebra, logic, geometry, graph theory, analysis, and
statistical theory. Breakthroughs are also being made in a diverse range of areas of critical importance to other fields of science and technology. Waterloo’s engagement by researchers in the mathematical, statistical, and computer sciences includes areas such as data mining, finance, health research and mathematical medicine, mathematical physics, control and dynamical systems, fluid mechanics, and scientific and symbolic computing. These all provide invaluable new insights for a diverse range of natural and technological processes.

Addressing challenges

Waterloo develops innovative approaches to modelling and associated computational and statistical techniques, addressing challenges arising in environmental science, finance, chronic disease, and industrial processes. Waterloo’s actuarial science research centres on reinsurance strategies, pension plan management, and risk management. Machine learning, clustering and constraint programming, combined with new algorithmic and mathematical techniques for optimization, are being applied to critical applications such as assistive technologies in healthcare and modelling of environmental systems.

Computer science research at Waterloo has been at the forefront of the field since its inception and continues to meet modern challenges. Studies of efficient algorithms and data structures, human-computer interaction, modelling complex scientific phenomena, and the management, analysis, and visualization of massive and dynamic data sets are applied to, for example, bioinformatics and medical informatics, online social networks, smart energy distribution systems, text analytics,
and information retrieval.

Enhancing privacy

Internet privacy and security are an important focus of Waterloo research, and their importance increases as cyber-physical systems become prevalent. Foundational research in number theory and public-key cryptography has led to successful spinoff activity and international standards, and it addresses how encrypted information can be kept secure in an emerging era where quantum technologies and new algorithms can break some of the most important cryptographic tools. Privacy enhancing technologies and location-aware privacy protection are important for Internet and mobile device users. Networked physical systems, such as medical devices, manufacturing supply chains, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things further raise the importance of security.

In addition, mathematical and computational research conducted in the Faculty of Science centres on constructing new tools to study and understand the natural world. Larger-scale modelling studies include tools developed by the department of earth and environmental sciences that are used around the world to study tectonic and hydrological processes up to a global scale. The interplay between theory and application drives progress in the mathematical and computer sciences, and the links between mathematics, statistics, computer science, and technology highlighted and fostered at Waterloo will shape the future of these disciplines and society as a whole.