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Is this realistic?

  1. Sep 22, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone. I really want to do a few things with mathematics in my life:

    1. Learn graph theory.
    2. Teach, something like freshman calc or linear algebra
    3. Learn more math in general

    My backgrounds is a little... shall we say different... as and undergrad I majored in drama (drama as in writing plays) because that's what I got a scholarship to study. On the side I took courses in game theory and linear algebra. I went to carnegie mellon and the math and economics courses I took were really solid. I've always loved math and programming computers.

    Then for 4 year I taught high school algebra. I took some more math courses: multivariable calculus, discrete math and some other course required for high school teachers. They were all pretty easy, but at least it kept my mind active.

    But, I didn't want to stop learning math! If you major in math education you don't get to go very far... So, I'm enrolling in grad school for pure math instead in a few months. Right now I'm taking undergrad Complex Variables to prepare.

    The thing is they have *NO* graph theory courses at my school. But since my math background is a little patchy my plan is to get a masters in pure math and then look for PHD program where I can learn some graph theory.

    Is this realistic? I'm not expecting to be a professor at MIT or anything! I'd really enjoy teaching at a community college or something like that. I think I'm the kind of teacher who would be good for students who are a little frightened of math. I enjoyed teaching high school but the material started to bore me after a few years.

    I also really NEED a course on differential equations. I've learned them all on my own and I'm worried I'm not strong enough in that area.

    I've also read a few books on graph theory, if I could just find some place to study, I think I could skip then intro courses.

    I'm in NYC, and I can't really relocate, my husband works for the city...

    I'm so desperate I'm thinking of starting a "study group" for graph theory at my school and seeing if I can find some people who want to read papers and do problems with me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2007 #2


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    sounds promising to me. in nyc you should be able to find anything.
  4. Sep 22, 2007 #3

    Chris Hillman

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    Well if you did well in some "solid" math courses at Carnegie Mellon, I don't see why your goals would be unrealistic if you do sufficiently well in those first graduate classes.

    Well, Bollobas, Modern Graph Theory, Springer, 1991 is one of the best books ever published, and has few prerequisites. Diestel, Graph Theory, Springer, 2000 is also superb and in fact these two books cover similar material and complement one another very well. After you've gotten your feet wet, if all goes well in your first graduate courses, I'd urge you to purchase both and try to set up an 2-credit reading course with a friendly professor. A fine ambitious goal would be to understand the statement and proof of the most important theorem in mathematics, the Szemeredi theorem. See http://www.arxiv.org/abs/math/0702396 (the approach in the book by Bollobas is different; Terry Tao's paper is too short to explain the graph theoretic take on this result).

    Have you compiled a list of universities within commuting distance which offer graduate math courses and then surfed the deparmental web pages to see what the research interests of the faculty are?

    You mean, the school where you will be taking graduate courses? That might be hard, since first year math graduate students are unlikely to have any spare time! But I don't see why a reading course would not be feasible if you can find a professor willing to supervise you (it would be best, I think, to ask only after making a good impression on faculty in your first few graduate courses).
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2007
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