Questions arising from Physics have always provided strong motivation for research in Mathematics, often leading to new techniques or even the emergence of new mathematical fields. Conversely, the detailed study of physical systems (including the Universe as a whole) very often requires advanced mathematical tools. Being at the interface of these two worlds, mathematical physics is fertile ground for identifying new directions in the mathematical sciences as well as for applying these techniques to new and useful settings.
The mathematical physics focus area encompasses a wide range of topics such as theoretical high energy physics, gravitational physics, theoretical cosmology, computational physics and integrable systems. They are all connected using mathematical techniques to aid in studying physical questions. Many of these techniques are motivated by recent developments in string theory, which have led to completely new ways of approaching the study of physical systems.
An important aspect of the focus area is that it provides perhaps one of the best avenues to popularise the importance of the mathematical sciences to the general public. As mentioned, it is often the deep questions about nature that provide the starting point for people of all ages to become interested in science. So, even though the message that mathematics underlies all aspects of daily life and technology should always be emphasised, the role of mathematics as the language of nature is an important element in engaging the public and perhaps breaking down some of the barriers when it comes to understanding and using mathematical concepts.