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Job as a night-watchman to study math

  1. Aug 2, 2012 #1
    I work at a engineering research institute but find it distressing I can't work on my pure and applied mathematics.I want to go to graduate school in math and need time to work on the proofs.My job doesn't allow me to do so.So,I've got a opportunity to work as a night watchman in a MNC company,I've got the whole floor to myself and loads of time to work on proofs.Do you think this is the way to go?Does anyone else have such experiences before graduate school?
    I enquired regarding a patent clerk job,but there's a 'rules and regulations' exam to pass.Are there any other jobs which buy time for math?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2012 #2


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    Hey marellasunny.

    This actually sounds like a good idea if you can get away with it, but I have to ask are you at a desk or are you standing up like say a security guard?

    Depending on the job, what and who you are watching, you might actually be too busy to do other stuff. I do know that some of these kinds of jobs do allow this, and many spend a lot of their time playing games, surfing the internet, and watching movies: however I would guess that some kinds of work would be very demanding where you have to take your job more 'seriously'.

    One definite advantage is that you have a lot of time to think, and having this is a great attribute for something like mathematics. Even if you don't have access to a desk or book, you can spend a lot of your time thinking and then when you get a chance, you can get a notepad and scribble stuff down.
  4. Aug 3, 2012 #3
    I would sit pretty much the whole night.But,didn't Einstein take the patent job so that he could review some great new ideas and work on relativity at the same time?Aren't there jobs like that?I've crossed-out teacher and mechanic,done that.
  5. Aug 3, 2012 #4


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    I'm not sure if you are going to have a lot of free time to do your own stuff in a job like this.

    Also the question you need to ask is what kind of mathematics do you wish to work on?

    I can see how a constant stream of inventions would give you a lot of great ideas, but the question I have for you is why you would prefer to get ideas from patents as opposed to ones from pre-prints, articles, textbooks, blogs (if you are online) and so on.

    The other thing is that I think you need to have a technical background (like an engineer, chemist, etc) but you did say you work in the automative engineering industry.

    A lot of mathematical ideas can be sourced by looking at nature, but at a certain point you will be going into a realm where you are juggling concepts and ideas that have a less direct correspondence to reality and this requires a degree of imagination that is hard to reference to reality (since reality is a lot more constrained than some of the stuff in mathematics).

    If you want ideas, then the best advice I have is to observe as much as you can about the world around you: lots of people don't pay attention to the majority of information that is out there staring us right in the face, but all of this provides an endless amount of opportunity for ideas.

    With mathematics, the thing is to build on both your observational experience of the world and your ability to imagine something which does not exist.

    Once you get good at being able to do things in your head through exercising your imaginative muscle, you'll be able to think of things that do not correspond directly to reality, and when this is done, the mathematics will flow from you. You can make a reference back to algebraic context or a geometric context, but either way you will be able to use the sensory capacity of the mind and not the sensory capacity of the five normal senses.

    There are many ideas out there and if you attention and follow your instinct, you'll have more ideas and more catalysts for new thinking than you can possibly work with in any life time.
  6. Aug 3, 2012 #5
    Thanks a zillion.This is what I wanted to get cleared-out.Now,I know why I am so bad at proofs,I never aced analysis/topology.Must go back to drawing-board again.Abstract thinking does not come easy once your'e a engineer.
  7. Aug 3, 2012 #6


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    It's not that engineers don't think abstractly (IMO I think they do), but it's just a different focus and different kinds of abstractivity.

    Engineers focus on different things to mathematicians, but actually I think you have an advantage once you starting going into the deep abstract realms because you can have a reference to all your engineering intuition: you might think this might hinder you, but remember that the more reference points you have, the better you will be able to classify and analyze things in a multitude of ways.

    Once you learn all the pure stuff and the proofs, I think that working with tangible systems will give you a bridge to understanding stuff that say a mathematician with no experience or little experience in tangible projects would and that is a strength, not a weakness: interdisciplinary people have a lot to bring to the table because they can show things in a perspective that another would not.

    It's like comparing say a fish's understanding of what water is with a lizard that can go to the surface: the lizard clearly has the advantage of the fish in understanding what water is.
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