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Becoming a mathematician  I am so depressed .. 
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#1
Sep1511, 03:05 PM

P: 43

I know this sounds awful. I know this is just a bunch of whining to you guys, but this really upsets. I have almost entered a state of depression, simply due to this issue.
Im a 17 year old high school student, living in denmark. I live and breathe mathematics! It is my passion, my way of life, and i feel it always will be. It is my greatest hobby, and my dearest pastime. And like luther, i have a dream  i want to obtain a math PhD, and become a mathematician working with mathematical research and teaching at college. I want to become a college professor so hard, that its basically all i care about. There is just some complications involved in my dream: 1. My iq is approx. 135. When i first found out, it was devastating to me. I had done a lot of reading about mathematicians, and to me it seemed like you would have no chance what so ever to be competitive in higher end mathematics, if you are not 150+. I have tried to forget that i am of low intelligence, but i simply can't. Everytime i work with math, i am always reminded reminded that i am not smart enough to accomplish my goal. 2. Instances have been seen, where low iq ppl (like feynman) are excellent at their field of study. This is just not my case  i have never been a child prodigy, learning calculus at age 12 and so on. I did teach myself calculus at age 16, but that is only 1 year prior to our high school introduction to the subject. It seems that i am of low intelligence, and i do not have a mathematical talent. 3. People around me keep saying that if someone can complete a math PhD, then it must be me. This is of great annoyance to me! Out of all the 600 pupils on my school, i am the best at mathematics. I teach in the schools "homework help cafe", even the 3. year students despite the fact i've just started 2nd year. My math teacher says i am the most brilliant math student he has encountered in 20 years of teaching A level high school math (the 3 year course). I have created proofs on my own for the Taylor series, the arc length formula etc. I can solve differential equations such as y''(x)+xy'(x)+y(x)=0 by series solutions and understanding what i am doing. In my head the guy described in the above paragraphs sounds like someone capable of completing a math phd  but the truth is, thats not enough! Why is it that in our subject, mathematics, you have to be an utter genius in order to qualify for a phd program? You can't imagine how discouraged i get, when i read about studying mathematics on the internet. Higher education math seems to be something reserved for the high iq geniuses, and the rest might aswell just apply for another job. Why do you have to be able to complete your bachelor at age 10 in mathematics, but not in other fields? I am no child prodigy. Im just a young guy, with a passionate dream about contributing to the world of mathematics. This text turned out to be one big whine i know  but this issue is ruining my life. You guys  who are so unfairly gifted  have no idea what it is like to have a mind that is so determined to contribute to mathematics, but is simply lacking the raw processing power to do so. I would give everything for a drug capable of eradicating my passion. This sounds horrible, but you have no idea how hard it is to want something so much, but knowing you will never be able to achieve it. Im sorry, but i had to get this out to someone who understands me. Everyone around me seem to think I'm crazy. If i couldn't complete a math phd, who could? The answer is: The prodigies, the naturals and the people who are born to do maths. I cannot say that i am among equals on this board, but at least i am among people, who understand my deep frustration. Imagine if your mathematical talent was taken away from you, leaving only the deep desire to do and practice math  how would you feel? 


#2
Sep1511, 03:40 PM

P: 108

IQ tests generally measure things like pattern recognition. This isn't the same thing as math ability. There are more intricate tests that may measure other things, but these aren't equivalent to math ability either. They may be correlated with math talent, but once you get beyond a couple standard deviations (which 135 generally is), it's not going to really tell you much. Basically the only thing it MIGHT tell you is that you aren't going to be a math professor if your IQ is below 100.
The fact that your teacher told you you're the best math student he's seen in 20 (!!!) years tells a lot more. You probably have the talent to be a mathematician if what he says is even remotely true. I also don't know where you got the idea that only math prodigies complete math PhDs. Do you really think every math professor was a math prodigy, let alone every PhD? Hell, you may be a prodigy yourself based on what your teacher said. Being a prodigy doesn't necessarily mean being good at every piece of math you encounter and teaching yourself calculus at 12. 


#3
Sep1511, 04:00 PM

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P: 18,279

Where are the sites that say that you need to have a high IQ to do a math PhD?? I have never read that... ever.
There are three things that are important in order to be a good research mathematician: Talent: You must be born with a little bit of talent. I won't deny this. But if your high school teacher says that you're good, then this usually is enough. Hard work: This is much more important than talent. You must really prepare to work hard and the breath math every single day. This is where many people fail. Enjoyment: Enjoy what you do. This is the single most important criterium to decide whether somebody will be succesful in math. I don't think you're whining, I had the same doubts as you. But thing is that you just need to try. You'll see how it turns up. Here's something that took a long time for me to learn: IQ is just a number. It is meaningless. It means whatever meaning you give to it. Oh, and if you're getting depressed about it and if you keep obsessing about it, then you might want to see a councelor. Talking with professional people is a great way to relieve stress. And maybe there's something they can do for you. 


#4
Sep1511, 04:01 PM

P: 43

Becoming a mathematician  I am so depressed ..
I would trade 85 years of life with my slow brain, for just 15 years of life with the brain of this guy: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/03/26/...ofrelativity/ How wonderful it must be to be so intelligent  to reach such levels of enlightenment is just fantastic, at age 12! When i was 12, i was simply playing with sticks. I want to do things like that, but this stupid vessel of a body is not capable! I have no idea if my math teacher may just have gotten unlucky with his students the past 20 years of his teachings, as it sounds rather unlikely, especially since I'm not very intelligent compared to the average mathematician. But nevertheless, thats what he is saying ^^ 


#5
Sep1511, 04:04 PM

P: 925

The mathematical talent on these boards was accomplished through hard work mostly  talent probably played second fiddle to most people here. And being able to teach yourself (and more importantly understand them) aspects of higher order math such as calcuus or differential equations IS talent.



#6
Sep1511, 04:05 PM

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P: 18,279

You really seem to have a very low selfesteem. Take this advice: see a counciler or therapist. They will help you with it. 


#7
Sep1511, 04:28 PM

P: 108

OK, I gotta ask, what is your source for this stuff claiming you need an IQ of 145+ to get a PhD in math. And why are you not listing the IQ test. You do know every test has a different standard deviation right?



#8
Sep1511, 04:42 PM

P: 43

To answer micro mass and diracula; I have no direct source, it is just my conclusion from doing research about mathematicians in general. Obviously all the great minds of maths had a high iq  tao and all the other prodigies. But when i search in regular forums, it seems that regular forum users who conduct mathematics also have an iq of 145+ (or at least thats what they state), and this is with standard deviation 15, like my score of 135. This is why it bothers me so much  if it was just one or 2 sources, claiming that you had to have such a high iq to be competitive in math, i could look past it. But it just seems that the more research i do about studying math in general, the more it seems to me that you have to be an utter genius to do something useful in math.
Just look at the criterias for getting a research position at a university  you have to hold a phd in math. This is according to my impression an accomplishment reserved for the quickest of minds  and on top of that, it is required of you to have published several quality articles, bringing something into math. Lets say i ended up barely getting a phd  how the hell am i suppose to come up with a new publication, contributing to mathematics? I am nowhere near smart enough to figure out something innovative right after college, and to be truly great you have to do this while in college. I just can't see how this can be done by a mediocre person like me? this is why i think my level of intelligence is not enough. But yes micro mass, self esteem is a problematic area of mine  i basically have very low self esteem, in pretty much everything ^^ 


#9
Sep1511, 04:49 PM

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#10
Sep1511, 05:04 PM

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#11
Sep1511, 05:11 PM

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I don't understand your issue. If you like mathematics, and claim that your professor praises your skills in it, why are you here condemning yourself? I probably have a very low IQ but I love learning differential geometry/topology regardless because, well, I like it. Simple as that. Micro watches Spongebob 24/7 but he is amazing at math, what does that tell you =D?



#12
Sep1511, 05:30 PM

P: 921

An autistic man takes the same I.Q test as a nonautistic man. Both men are of equal mathematical ability. Who scores higher on the test? The point I'm making is that I.Q tests are incredibly biased and attempt to set in stone what intelligence is (a number) even though we don't even know what constitutes intelligence. Math is the study of formal patterns, an I.Q tests recognition of formal patterns. So to some extent it measures intelligence i.e why most of the time it can distinguish between the less intelligent and more intelligent in some interval (80120). I took an I.Q test albeit an online one and my teacher did too whom has a math degree. He got twenty points lower then me yet if we were to talk about math in front of a crowd of people they would surely think he is of greater intelligence. The results are arbitrary ergo the I.Q test can't be trusted to some measure as a test of intelligence and furthermore of mathematical ability.



#13
Sep1511, 05:35 PM

P: 43

Fredrik and micro mass, i do agree with you that i need to work on my selfesteem. I might even see a therapist about it, since it is slightly inhibiting other factors of my life  it is certainly a great nuisance.
but the fact is, I'm not very good  thats the point. The stuff that i do is easy. Who cares if i can proof some arc length formula, or the taylor series. Lots of people have come up with proofs like that by themselves, it is not extraordinary. In order to gain success in math, i have to be extraordinary  otherwise, what is the point of trying? I know i really enjoy math. The thought about getting out of bed and working with math all day long for a salary is just amazing to me. But i don't want to be a lousy mathematician. Wannabenewton: It wasn't my professor, it was my high school teacher :) I don't know if it is that much of a compliment that he thinks of my skills as extraordinary, since its high school and not college. 


#14
Sep1511, 05:37 PM

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#15
Sep1511, 05:41 PM

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I think you would be surprised to learn just how ordinary math professors are. They are more like Michael Richards than Reed Richards.



#16
Sep1511, 05:43 PM

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You seem to want to go into math because you want prestige and honor. If this is the case, don't go studying math. Looking for succes in math is not the correct mindset to have. 


#17
Sep1511, 05:43 PM

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P: 2,716

Levis2  it sounds to me like you're using this IQ thing as an excuse not to pursue your passion.
You'll run into enough roadblocks in your life. There's no point in creating artificial ones. If math really is your passion, then pursue it until you can't anymore  not because someone tells you that it's not possible, but because you struggle too much with the problems and lose passion for them (if that ever happens at all). 


#18
Sep1511, 05:43 PM

P: 921




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