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Intent on getting pure math PHD, start plan B now?

  • Math
  • Thread starter Poopsilon
  • Start date
  • #1
294
1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Basically what I mean by my title is that I am intent on getting a PHD in pure math because I love the subject, and am still young enough to do it without throwing the rest of my life into disarray. But beyond that I need to have a plan. Plan A is clearly to go on to do several post-docs followed by a tenure track position as a research mathematician. However, it has been made abundantly clear to me that the prospects in academia are quite bleak, hence I need a plan B.

The two career options I hear over and over again for math phd's are software engineer or financial mathematician. Of these two I think I would prefer being a financial mathematician, as, in contrast to software engineering, it seems to intersect non-trivially with some advanced topics in math, specifically measure-theoretic probability and real/fourier analysis ( please correct me if I am misinformed in regard to this assumption ). Plus I find economics and finance interesting subjects in their own right, although of course not hardly as interesting as I find pure mathematics.

My question is: should I start preparing now? I will probably be applying to PHD programs either next fall or the fall after that, depending on how many graduate courses I want to take before I apply, so should I just buckle down on the pure math for now and worry about preparing for plan B maybe as I'm finishing up my PHD? Or, should I begin studying finance and applied math, and learning to program, now?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
jk
148
0
It never hurts to prepare early. The programming is a good idea to learn
 
  • #3
6,814
12
The two career options I hear over and over again for math phd's are software engineer or financial mathematician. Of these two I think I would prefer being a financial mathematician, as, in contrast to software engineering, it seems to intersect non-trivially with some advanced topics in math, specifically measure-theoretic probability and real/fourier analysis
Most people working in mathematical finance have to have both computer skills and mathematical skills. Measure-theoretic probability and fourier analysis are heavily used in finance, but in most situations you are applying them to input data, which means that there are non-trivial software engineering issues.

Also the really, really valuable skills require deep knowledge of both math and software engineering. It's the difference between being able to program in Mathematica and/or Maple and being able to program Mathematica and/or Maple from scratch.

So should I just buckle down on the pure math for now and worry about preparing for plan B maybe as I'm finishing up my PHD? Or, should I begin studying finance and applied math, and learning to program, now?
It won't hurt to start learning to program now.

Also, getting a job in industry is plan A. Getting a tenure-track position is if you win the lottery and that's plan B.
 
  • #4
294
1
Also, getting a job in industry is plan A. Getting a tenure-track position is if you win the lottery and that's plan B.
lol, fair enough, so what you're saying is that the finance can probably wait as what is really important is that I'm a programming god by the time I start interviewing for positions?
 

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