ConclusionsA substantial part of this report has explored the applications of mathematics in industry, business, and government, as well as many aspects of nonacademic careers for mathematicians. These topics have quite recently received great attention in the mathematics community because of their relationship with two phenomena: the current crisis in the academic job market, and the perceived sharpened attention of U.S. funding agencies to work on applications. In some instances, discussion of applications and nonacademic jobs conveys grudging acceptance of unpleasant necessities that will, if all goes well, pass away; then the mathematics community can return to business as usual.
The MII steering committee emphatically does not take this view. Even if the academic job market improves and funding pressure eases, we are convinced that mathematics and mathematicians should change permanently along the lines indicated in our multiplicity of suggestions. We also believe that the traits valued in nonacademic mathematicians are important and worthwhile in a far wider context.
Throughout the history of mathematics, ideas and inspiration have flowed strongly in both directions between mathematics and applications. Nonacademic applications offer opportunities not simply for mathematicians to solve practical problems, but to enrich and deepen mathematics as well as a wide variety of other fields, including science, engineering, medicine, and business.