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Academic advice for math major (peripheral)

  1. May 5, 2009 #1
    I'm a pure math major (finishing up my sophomore year; the only math courses I've taken so far are "pure" ones), and I do want to go to grad school (in the pure math track) and academia after that.

    I'm also kind of nervous and doubtful about the prospect. I'm leaning heavily towards it, but I feel like I should also explore other options before committing myself to the ideal of academia.

    I'm just wondering what kind of courses/activities I should do in the event that I should eventually go into industry (if I do, it will probably be after grad school, although who knows, I might even give grad school a pass, or go for the applied track in grad school?)

    There is also something else on my mind - the possibility of taking fall semester off senior year to expand my math horizons (and for a change of environment) although I'm not sure what form this will/should take. Does anyone have suggestions? Internships in industry; or just math research opportunities at other universities (how would I secure them?!); etc.

    Thanks a lot.

    P.S. I don't know if this is the best section to get lots of (good) advice, but I certainly hope for it.
    P.S. I also posted this in the career subforum
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2009 #2
    Perhaps you should be more specific with your question. Are you looking for suggestions for courses? Or are you asking if you should go towards a more applied math education?
  4. May 6, 2009 #3
    On this note: what is applied about applied math: numerical analysis, differential equations, physics typically learned by an applied mathematician (that is, not quite enough physics mathematical physics). These subjects surely have great research potential, but do companies actually hire applied mathematicians instead of engineers and physicists for this?

    I know wall street uses differential equations and statistics for its math and hires many quants.

    Would graph theory and optimization be also lumped with "applied math"?

    I feel this question directly relates to the initial post.

    For the OP, I know statistics is the most demanded mathematical related skill in industry.
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  5. May 9, 2009 #4
    It's hard to beat computer science. I worked an internship for a couple of years, and I found that my CS and statistics experience, acquired through classes, was instrumental in both getting the job and performing its duties.

    They're called REUs, research experiences for undergraduates, and are typically done over the summer. You generally apply for them late in the fall (I think the NSF website has listings of programs). The summer between your junior and senior years is a common time to complete them.

    Note that these two goals might be mutually exclusive: generally speaking, both stipulate that you work for them, with REU restrictions being the stricter of the two.
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
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