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Can I call myself a mathematician?

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- #1

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Can I call myself a mathematician?

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Why not? There are no licensing laws for mathematicians and you're working as a mathematician.

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symbolipoint

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I think you're working as a teacher of mathematics, which is not the same as mathematician.

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Even though I served on the Math faculty of the Air Force Academy, I never really considered myself a mathematician, but rather as a mathematical scientist - one who used existing mathematics to address numerous interesting problems in various natural sciences - physics, brain injury, ballistics, and fisheries science mostly, but also taking forays into environmental sciences and other areas. For me, a mathematician is one who develops new mathematics.

One student I mentor works as a math tutor and has published seven peer-reviewed papers spanning several areas of physics and mechanical engineering. Given his scholarly record, it would be appropriate for him to refer to himself as either a physicist or a mechanical engineer. Referring to himself as a mathematician would not be quite right.

Another student I've mentored has published most of her scholarly work in either chemistry or physics. She has one published paper in mathematics, but given the lack of ongoing work in mathematics and her current research focus in chemistry, she tends to view herself as a chemist.

At least in the US, scholarship and publication (rather than teaching) tend to be the key things people expect when one has a designation as a mathematician or specific kind of scientist.

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CrysPhys

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Just trying to convey to others that I am serious about maths. I do tutor some difficult mathematics subjects. But seems like that is not a good enough reason to be labeled as a mathematician?

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I'm serious about dance. Doesn't make me a dancer.

I'm serious about cars. Doesn't make me a race car driver.

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Among academics and STEM professionals though, the title tends to imply more than tutoring advanced topics. And if you want to be taken seriously in such circles, using the title is likely to work against you rather than for you.

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S.G. Janssens

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Would not calling yourself or being called a mathematician frustrate you? In my opinion, a good mathematics tutor can contribute a lot more to mathematics than a mediocre mathematician.Just trying to convey to others that I am serious about maths. I do tutor some difficult mathematics subjects. But seems like that is not a good enough reason to be labeled as a mathematician?

If your ambitions go beyond tutoring, then why not initiate some research of your own and submit the results to a mathematics journal for review and possible publication? With a master's degree it should be possible to at least get started.

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mathwonk

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- #12

CrysPhys

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<<Emphasis added>>Just trying to convey to others that I am serious about maths.I do tutor some difficult mathematics subjects. But seems like that is not a good enough reason to be labeled as a mathematician?

Ah, but who constitute "others"? Current students? Potential new students? Potential employers? Family and friends? Former classmates? STEM professionals? Random people you meet? There's an underlying issue if you feel that introducing yourself as a "math tutor" is not good enough for you.

ETA:

FWIW, a couple of years ago, I considered a career switch to tutoring. In my area, there are a lot of rich dumb kids, and parents are willing to shell out $150/hr. Not bad at all.

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I don't think I buy that argument. Was Howard Cosell a football player?If you make money mostly by using knowledge of mathematics, then you are a mathematician.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_CosellI don't think I buy that argument. Was Howard Cosell a football player?

Did he make money by knowing how to actually play football?

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CrysPhys

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So you would consider an accountant to be properly designated as a mathematician? Or, for that matter, a 4th-grade math teacher?

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I thought tutor is someone who tells mathematicians how to do it. Something more like a coach.A tutor of mathematics describes what mathematicians did.

Is a football coach a football player? In some sense I think he is.

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Can I add "advanced" in front of mathematics?So you would consider an accountant to be properly designated as a mathematician? Or, for that matter, a 4th-grade math teacher?

Is a high-school math teacher a mathematician? I would say - yes.

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But that's not really the point under discussion. The point under discussion is whether such a self-designation is likely to be viewed as reasonable by the likely audiences AND whether the term communicates better (more accurately) than other candidates.

Consider the famous mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Newton, Leibniz, Hilbert, etc. They are notable for their research accomplishments. None is famous for their teaching alone.

Consider the famous math teachers such as Escalante and Khan. They are famous, and deservedly so, for their contributions to math education.

So while a math teacher may reasonably refer to themselves as a "mathematician" they won't be fooling anyone who looks at their CV or plugs their name into a scholarly search engine.

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