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Question: I am interested in two fields, mathematical biology and cryptography. Is it okay to discuss both of these interests in my statement of purpose?

I'm currently a junior majoring in mathematics. I have to write a statement of purpose so that I can be able to attend a mathematics conference. During the conference there will be a time where we can submit applications to graduate schools there. I'm not sure if it is for seniors only, but I am writing one just in case. I don't know which schools are going to be there. If I did I would just choose one depending on the degrees offered by each school, but I don't know who is going to be there.

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I'm curious: what conference is this? (I am a pure mathematician.) –  Pete L. Clark Jul 20 '14 at 19:59
@PeteL.Clark - Field of Dreams Conference. –  SOULed_Outt Jul 20 '14 at 20:31

2 Answers 2

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Keep it short and succinct, I would say a paragraph is good, unless otherwise stated in the application. If this means that you only have enough space to talk about one of those areas, then pick one.

If the conference is more geared towards pure mathematics, I would suggest expanding on your interest in cryptography. Otherwise, if it is an applied mathematics conference, then talk about your studies in biological math. Chances are schools which specialize in pure mathematics will attend a pure mathematics conference, and likewise for applied math. If you want to find out the universities who are attending, just ask an event coordinator. I'm sure there isn't any secrecy surrounding who is attending.

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I would try to emphasize (as far as possible) the commonality of math between the two disciplines. For instance, biology may use a lot of differential equations, or even graph theory, and perhaps cryptography can too.

It would be awesome if you came up with an application combining the two disciplines, e.g. using fingerprinting for crytography. Your job in writing a statement of purpose is to convince people that you're a viable candidate for such role.

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