## Becoming a mathematician - I am so depressed ..

Mathematicians have proved incredibly great theorems. Godel has shown that no set of axioms are consistent as in there will always be a paradox no matter which set of axioms you start with. I am sure that is the case with other sciences too. There are great scientists just as there are great mathematicians.

For that reason, I wonder as to what scientists have to say about IQ. When I browse google about IQ, I do find that many scientists believe that IQ has a strong correlation to success in academic career even though that may not be the only factor.

Even though I will not stop doing math under any circumstances and my advice will still be that do what you feel like doing, I am curious to know what the truth is. It would be ironic to shy away from the truth for me as one of the qualities of a mathematician or a scientist is to consider all the possibilities with no bias and try to discover the truth. If the question is regarding the importance of IQ in being able to do math, then a scientific approach would be to figure out the truth without bias.

It might be true. It might be a bad news for all of us who do not have a good IQ. As I have said again and again, I will not stop doing math under any circumstance; however, I am really really curious to know THE answer to this question. What is IQ? Why is it important OR not important?

Whether or not IQ matters, I do not want to be unscientific about this matter and I will accept whatever is the truth. But knowing that Einstein had a very high IQ and so do many geniuses in math, there is a very strong likelihood that IQ does matter to a great extent.

 Quote by StatOnTheSide Whether or not IQ matters, I do not want to be unscientific about this matter and I will accept whatever is the truth. But knowing that Einstein had a very high IQ and so do many geniuses in math, there is a very strong likelihood that IQ does matter to a great extent.
High IQ score is more likely to be something associated with mathematical ability rather than determinative or a necessary condition. It's quite clearly not a sufficient condition if you read the above post reviewing a book by the lady who currently holds the highest IQ score on record.

I'm betting its unlikely to find mathematicians with a very low IQ. And I bet a lot of successful one's have a high IQ. However, finding even a few successful mathematicians with only slightly-above average IQ is enough to demonstrate that a high IQ is not at all necessary for success in mathematics. This is simply something demanded by the scientific method.

One of the most influential effects of education is not just knowledge and networking, but actually instilling confidence in oneself and one's abilities. I have a feeling IQ scores can operate in a similar manner where those who find themselves with lower scores self-select out of the process, while those with higher scores assume they have fair to reasonable odds. When you go and do the measurement, it would appear only high IQ holders go on to maths success.
 I agree that the motivation and confidence are huge factors. They are actually well-documented in the animal kingdom as well. Ivan D. Chase is a professor at Stony Brook university who does research on the formation of transitive hierarchies of dominance in animal groups. It's fascinating stuff, if your interested I suggest checking it out. The short and sweet of it is, winners go on to win more because they learn aggressiveness pays off, while losers learn deference because previous attempts resulted in failure. This is actually noticeable in the academic and job world as well - get a couple bang on papers early in your career, and you get more positions, offers, experience, which begets better offers, and so on.
 I will check it out. Thanks for pointing it out H2Bro. Even though it is true for animals, I am sure humans are not the same as animals. We are different. There may be common factors but there are a lot of factors not common to animals. That is why we call ourselves as being different from animals! As teenagers, a lot of it is like in animals. But as you grow up, you will enter the adult world. The reason why there are exceptions in mathematics is that there are people who have pursued math without worrying too much about any of the above. If a pin pricks you when you are looking at it, you will feel the pain.When it pricks you when you are not looking at it, it just goes un-noticed! Long story short, you just do math if you like it and like the idea of thinking about formalizing the logic hidden in the mathematical structure. If you enjoy it, it means that you understand it and love to do more of it. It has a positive slope and will lead you to success some day. As long as you enjoy it, why do you care right?
 Recognitions: Homework Help Science Advisor this thread is based almost entirely on one of the biggest difficulties facing those who aspire to do well in mathematics. namely the confidence problem. we all know the extreme unlikelihood that we will ever do anything comparable to the work of abel, gauss, galois, riemann, dedekind, etc, etc.... indeed it is discouraging even to begin to list the names that will almost certainly always be bigger than our own. but the same problem faces people who want to become athletes, or artists, or newspapermen, or politicians, or salesmen. so if we still love our career path and want to pursue it, we have to summon up the courage to embark on a very difficult venture in which we have every chance of falling far short of our hopes and dreams. we have to maintain optimism and objectivity, to take satisfaction in small successes, and we need to learn not to let our mental health depend completely on every little sign of success or failure. one thing that helps some of us, especially oldsters, is trying to teach and help other younger people. this helps us realize the long spectrum of learning that exists, and that we are not at the bottom of it, even if we are also not near the top. ultimately we learn to work "for the glory of god", i.e. for enjoyment, not for personal aggrandizement. also it helps if we have a plan B, i.e. if not all our eggs are in the same basket. even david hilbert took a teaching certificate in case research did not work out for him. one good thing that can come from competition, or comparing our work with other stronger workers, is that it can teach us how to improve, and inspire us at least to do our own best. i hope the OP has had some chance to grow and flourish, but i was frustrated that his high school was so short sighted as not to allow him to attend the university class that suited him better than high school. i would have appealed this with help from the university professor. perhaps he has since suffered some more setbacks and again faced the ongoing challenge of finding his place. i wish him well. he certainly has youth and intelligence on his side.

+1 for mathwonk. I think you definitely hit the nail on the head.

Physics and math might more than other subjects make us uncertain or doubt ourselves because the ability is so quantifiable, i.e. physicist X or Y mastered calculus by age 13, or independently thought up a proof or theorem at age 10. There's a lot of these anecdotes floating around, especially the one about Gauss as a child, which make us think "gee, I never did that!"

Something that helps me is to know that I simply have a different kind of learning curve than a lot of people. My intellectual side didn't fully blossom until my 20's, but now its full steam ahead and I'm starting to notice the difference between me and the younger people around me in terms of drive and motivation. I think acknowledging that different people have different styles of learning, and that sometimes its not clear cut if one is definitively 'better', helps to calm down the voice saying 'you wont make it because you're not a prodigy, or 99th IQ percentile, etc'.

 Quote by StatOnTheSide Even though it is true for animals, I am sure humans are not the same as animals. We are different. There may be common factors but there are a lot of factors not common to animals. That is why we call ourselves as being different from animals!
Humans are animals, actually. The most important factor in the 'winners keep on winning' pattern of behavior among animals is the observance of winners by bystanders. Observing another win increases your perception of their capacity and potential, and reduces your self-confidence when it comes times to challenge them.

There is an interesting line of research on this, focusing on people in discussion groups which over time produce transitive hierarchies of interaction participants. If you like PM me and I can link you to some more sources that explore it a bit more fully.
 Dude you are 17 relax. Oh and your iq tends to increase as you progress uni. I suggest you take the summer of maybe meet some girls and party a bit before you start uni.
 I am also trying to be a mathematician. But I have realized something. It is a love, not a state of being. Unless you are very intelligent, which I think most mathematicians are not (necessary), doing math research as a job is more of a habit than a state of being. i second the sentence that success is not the right mindset to have. I had an iq of 150 as a second grader. I don't know what my iq is right now. But i have failed at learning math because I was focused on trying to do things fast like many people at mit. However, I am not a fast thinking. I like to think slowly and deeply and work on a problem for many hours if I can. However, this is hard to do at MIT. I don't think you have any iq to get a phd in math. I think you have to work hard, and have a non-proud mindset constantly. There are tons of smart mathematicians out there. However, if you know what you are doing when you solve differential equations, then that is sufficient. As long as you want to study mathematics and work at it for the love of it, then it doesn't matter if you aren't smart. Many of the professors at MIT are bad at computation, but good at what they do. ALso, I think many mathematicians have some idea of what other people are doing, but I think overly stressing about how other people are doing is also not helpful, and actually harmful.

I guess this relates to the balance between doing something you love and being realistic. Like everyone else already said, you shouldn't study something unless you enjoy it a lot. However, especially with math, I found that it was like a lot of people who didn't have a lot of background in math from high school were left behind in college in comparison to those in other majors. I'm not sure why this is the case, but this really is something to consider. As for being realistic, math isn't the most "practical" or applicable to other fields and this is something to consider especially if you aren't all that interested in applied math. So, this is something the OP (and anyone else considering the major) needs to think about carefully.

 Quote by StatOnTheSide As Mathwonk has pointed, there are some people who are way beyond others and I just acknowledge that. Many are actually dead. The main problem arises with the peers. There is always a huge ego clash between the so called friends who are in the same field atleast till they establish themselves. Sometimes it continues well into their old age.
I don't really understand why this should be a problem. At first, it was intimidating to be surrounded by these people, but I'm constantly amazed by the people around me and it is exciting to learn from them.
 You are obviously capable of achieving in the field of mathematics. I wouldn't let petty occurrences discourage you from an ever-rewarding field. We are very close in age and seem to share our talent. I myself wish to be a Physicist; perhaps one day we will work together.
 Thanks for your kind words 42Physics. Please do not take my theory about ego boost etc too seriously. I do believe that it is different for older people. To be a grown up has its advantages and this is probably one of them. I was talking about my experience during my undergrad/highschool days and it might be different for you. Not that those people have changed but just that now there is lot more freedom to choose only the nice people, like yourself, to be a friend. BTW I am 32 years old :)
 I appreciate your time greatly. I'm just trying to help birth the people who make the tomorrow of science and math come. I am 14 years old btw

 Quote by Levis2 You may very well be right - but the issue is, that most high-iq people say this :) I do not know whether is should take it as the truth or just modesty. I really do hope you are right - maybe all is not lost for me.
Levis, In my own opinion one of the most important factors in excelling in a given subject is first the motivation, that you obviously have, and second, having time. You obviously have both.

The more time you invest learning, the more you will be able to learn deeply and intimately a subject.

One of the biggest advantages that young people have now is the huge amount of information on the internet.
The best mathematicians like Hilbert, Grothendieck, Gauss etc They never had access or an easy way to find 200 graduate math books online, or online lectures, wikipedia or websites that could orient you.
If you can exploit that to teach yourself additional subjects, if you have some orientation and if you administer your time. You would be able to learn many mathematical related subjects in a deep way.

 Quote by Levis2 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/...of-relativity/ 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!
Apologies for bumping a somewhat old thread, but I really couldn't let this go. That "child prodigy" you refer to in your post, Jacob Barnett, is basically a fake. He has a good memory no doubt (possibly autistic?) and so is able to memorize a great deal of intelligent sounding phrases - even though he knows almost nothing about what he is talking about. In fact his Wikipedia page has been deleted as a result. Watch this:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=91e_1301861454