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Applied math MS/PhD jobs 
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#1
Dec2610, 07:04 PM

P: 91

Many schools advertise their applied math graduate programs by answering the question "what kind of job does a mathematician do?" The answers all essentially say the same thingsomething like "you can
Can anyone help answer these questions? I am not interested in answers from people who are unqualified to give themi.e. people who have no experience with this issue themselves. By visiting school websites, I've already gotten such answers. My undergraduate advisor is totally useless, by the way. Is it pointless to seek a job in industry unless I go to grad school for some kind of engineering? For instance, what roles in finance are realistic for someone with an applied math M.S. from a nontop10 school? What other industries come to mind, supposing I have 1.53.5 years' experience with C, C++, Python, and MATLAB, and did my research primarily in machine learning? Personal stories get 50 bonus points. 


#2
Dec2710, 08:42 AM

P: 731

You'll find most of them ask for PhDs. 


#3
Dec2710, 04:50 PM

P: 91




#4
Dec2710, 07:25 PM

P: 4,573

Applied math MS/PhD jobs
1) Actuary These people are basically "business mathematicians" that work mostly in financial services and insurance companies. Their job is akin to an engineer. They have the professional and the legal responsibility to sign off on things that are required by specific bodies like prudential bodies and other regulatory bodies. So what exactly do they do? They do quite a lot. They do all the required analysis when designing insurance products which involves simulations (statistical and Monte Carlo) and present results to business executives that are not as math inclined as they are. They also have to make sure that the insurance company remains solvent and that covers a lot of different areas including statistics, finance, economics, accounting, investments and the connections between these fields. With regard to investments, they have to pass courses that are both computational and conceptual. Since a lot of premiums are invested straight away, they need to understand a lot about investments, but they are not legally allowed to sign off on those things because it requires another certification. Like most applied mathematicians, they basically solve problems within some domain, and do presentations that show a concise analysis of a problem, with recommendations for the top brass to make. They may have some responsibilities themselves, but for a lot of applied mathematicians, they are giving recommendations for people with a higher amount of responsibility to make a decision. 


#5
Dec2710, 07:33 PM

P: 4,573

Also I'll give a personal anecdote for video game design programmer.
While it wasn't a "mathematician" job, you have to know a lot of math to actually do your job. Here's an example. The level designers come to you and say they want you to add a tool that given a volume, you use that volume to create nodes that the AI can use in path building (A*) for navigating around the level. So my one was a general solution: 1) Take the polytype and project it on to the world 2) Find the planes that it was projected on to. 3) For each plane build a convex hull by rotating the plane to a standard XY plane and then using minimization of angle to form the hull 4) For each hull triangulate using the definition of the hull 5) Use triangle interpolation (barycentric coordinates) to fill each triangle with points given some density parameter 6) Rotate each point plane that has been filled with points back to its position and add a z offset so that the points are above and close to the plane Note that the rotated plane in 6) refers to the points created from the real plane definition. So there's some computational geometry at work to solve a problem. 


#6
Dec3010, 05:37 PM

P: 161

it could be said 'with a degree in mathematics, you can do anything except mathematics'. 'you like statistics? be an actuary! that uses mathematics!' or 'you like to program, be a programmer! that uses mathematics!' and on...but you're not going to get a job with the title 'mathematician'.



#7
Jan111, 10:30 AM

P: 83

Also, I suppose this depends on your definition of "mathematician". I would consider anyone who has a degree in mathematics (or related field) and actively works with mathematical methods  either to solve problems or to investigate, and improve upon said methods  a mathematician. 


#8
Jan111, 11:50 AM

P: 1,540

Why wouldn't the same stringent requirements for "physicist" also apply to "mathematician"?



#9
Jan111, 12:53 PM

P: 83

Mathematics seems to be a more general field, especially where career opportunities are concerned. Also, there's the question of persons who are physicists by training, but work as mathematicians (or computer scientists, chemists etc...); for example, some quants. And in those cases, I think the work of the individual determines his/her job title. I don't think there are many physics trainedquants actually doing any physics on Wall Street, but there's certainly physics trainedquants doing stochastic calculus. To me, that would make them employed as applied mathematicians. By the same token, I'm pretty sure there are mathematicians who work primarily as computer scientists; however, I'm not sure that there's any mathematicians working in experimental fields in government labs. It's just the nature of the beast. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a working mathematician or physicists. I aspire to be a working mathematician, and those aspirations have led me to a lot of reading on career paths. Perhaps someone with experience in industry, government or finance could give a deeper, more meaningful insight. 


#10
Jan111, 10:16 PM

P: 144

algorithms is always big. companies like amazon, netflix, google or facebook. the first two rely on algorithms to make recommendations to their customers. the last two rely on them to direct ads to their users.



#11
Jan311, 03:47 PM

P: 161

worse, the car industry for example doesn't really hire 'mathematicians', they hire 'engineers' who have been specifically trained for that type of job. similarly for other jobs that use mathematics, 'programmer', 'actuary', they require specialisiation within the field of mathematics which a generalist mathematician might have difficulty proving can do. 


#12
Jan311, 03:59 PM

P: 83




#13
Jan311, 04:22 PM

P: 161

it is said the 'statictians' also reject being labeled as 'mathematician'. but i'm not sure what criteria you or they are using.



#14
Jan411, 09:36 AM

P: 1,745

Saying a quant is a mathematician but a programmer isn't is just weird. I think there's a lot more variety in these occupations than people are giving credit for.



#15
Jan511, 06:37 AM

P: 731

The important thing for this thread is that applied math opens up hundreds of different job opportunities. It isn't about which jobs consider themselves to be mathematicians or not, but which jobs in which the skills a mathematician has are valuable. And by skills, we mean things like problem solving, technical writing, etc, not just "can do calculus.". It's the fact that you're the kind of person that can learn calculus that is interesting to many employers. 


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