Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space, relation, change, and various topics of pattern, form and entity. Mathematicians seek out patterns whether found in numbers, space, natural science, computers, imaginary abstractions, or elsewhere. Mathematicians formulate new conjectures and establish truth by rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions.

There is debate over whether mathematical objects exist objectively by nature of their logical purity, or whether they are manmade and detached from reality. The mathematician Benjamin Peirce called mathematics "the science that draws necessary conclusions".Albert Einstein, on the other hand, stated that "as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

Through the use of abstraction and logical reasoning, mathematics evolved from counting, calculation, measurement, and the systematic study of the shapes and motions of physical objects. Knowledge and use of basic mathematics have always been an inherent and integral part of individual and group life. Refinements of the basic ideas are visible in mathematical texts originating in the ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indian, Chinese, Greek and Islamic worlds. Rigorous arguments first appeared in Greek mathematics, most notably in Euclid's Elements. The development continued in fitful bursts until the Renaissance period of the 16th century, when mathematical innovations interacted with new scientific discoveries, leading to an acceleration in research that continues to the present day.

Today, mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences such as economics and psychology. 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 disciplines. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind, although practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered later.

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