Harvard mathematics Ph.D

  • #26
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Well, of course there is an obvious difference between fields like algebraic topology and fields like biostatistics. Someone in algebraic topology is seeking to answer questions of mathematics. Someone in biostatistics is seeking to answer questions of biology, and using mathematics to do it.
I can't talk too much about biostatistics since I'm not a biostatistician, but I do know something about the relationship between physics, computer science, and mathematics and the dialog goes in both directions. In order to do anything with computational physics you have to develop some new math.

When someone asks about a mathematics PhD, he almost surely is not thinking of biostatistics.
And I think that's a problem. The trouble is that (especially with undergraduates and high school students) the question they are asking and the assumptions that are making aren't the ones that the *should* be asking and making.

If the OP knew about the Harvard programs in biostatistics and applied mathematics, and didn't want to apply, that's fine. However, my guess is that the OP didn't know that those programs existed. One problem with physics and mathematics is that people have a highly distorted idea of what physicists and mathematicians do because they have stereotypes that involved zooming in on one aspect of mathematics. Getting rid of those stereotypes means questioning those assumptions.

All this other stuff is just not relevant to the question, regardless of your philosophical views on what is mathematics.
Sometimes you have figure out what the real question is. I can't say for certain who the original poster is, but the question that he is asking is pretty typical of people in high school, and usually when that question is asked, the asker is really asking something else like "what should I do with my life?" "do I have any hope of being a mathematician?"
 
  • #27
Of course, one can choose either pure or applied mathematics Ph.D program.
 
  • #28
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They expect some combination thereof along with the ability to think.
I think that would matter at all since it is a Ph. D Program and high school performance probably wont matter if you have a good research history as an undergrad.
 
  • #29
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In the end, you got to apply to know.
 
  • #33
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we have a winner
I was actually convinced that CV was a joke before finding numerous references to the person on the web. It still seems fishy to me.
 
  • #34
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I was actually convinced that CV was a joke before finding numerous references to the person on the web. It still seems fishy to me.
What part of it, the triple bachelors at MIT? I just accepted it as true because I've seen some of the other posts by the person who posted it and he seems like a pretty decent guy. o_O
 
  • #36
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What part of it, the triple bachelors at MIT? I just accepted it as true because I've seen some of the other posts by the person who posted it and he seems like a pretty decent guy. o_O
Haha, glad to know that I'm a decent guy. *shrugs*
 
  • #37
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That resume had a lot of extraneous information though. Who puts down stuff like "National AP Scholar" and "valedictorian at high school" on their resume after grad school other than to list as many awards as possible? Not considering the graduate work/scholarships/distinctions, I'd say http://web.mit.edu/yufeiz/www/cv.pdf still has a better undergraduate resume. Three-time Putnam fellow!? That's all you really need.
 
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  • #38
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What part of it, the triple bachelors at MIT? I just accepted it as true because I've seen some of the other posts by the person who posted it and he seems like a pretty decent guy. o_O
No, it was the massive list of awards that made me think it was a joke, both because it's so implausible for someone to get so many awards and because it's silly to list some of the ones that were listed.
 
  • #39
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Wissner-Gross seems more impressive to me than Zhao, but that could be because Wissner-Gross is a fellow Germanic. :approve:
 
  • #40
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Well, I'd argue that if you've managed to clinch top 5 in the Putnam competition once, you have good odds of repeating the feat (and certainly why they'd select you into the team for the next year!) and I wouldn't be surprised if you have some other mathematical publications/experiences/awards. This is a trend with IMOs as well. More classic examples (who got in the Harvard 'mathematics PhD' program, to stay on topic) if you really like the Putnam:

http://web.mit.edu/rwbarton/Public/resume.pdf
http://www.math.harvard.edu/~dankane/ [Broken]
http://www.claymath.org/fas/research_fellows/Manolescu/cv.pdf

On the other hand, AWG's CV is sort of like a career grand slam.

But of course, this is all in light-hearted discussion and to have some fun looking at other people's resumes. I don't mean to start a serious discussion on what awards garner most prestige, which is a rather silly endeavor.
 
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