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Math Majoring in math?

  1. Mar 21, 2012 #1
    majoring in math?!?

    I guess the title explains itself.. Is math a good career choice?
    I mean what could I do with a Bs in math, please if there are people with math majors who could help me?

    I'm mostly interested in "applied mathematics".

    Also can ANYBODY be a Math major?

    (A little off topic) but as far as Phd goes what do researchers really do? create a simulation function for specific situation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2012 #2


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    Re: majoring in math?!?

    Hey garbiiiiis and welcome to the forums.

    Math to me at least is a good career choice for a variety of reasons but the thing is that the reasons will vary from person to person even if they all agree that there are benefits for a wide range of careers.

    If you are interested in applied mathematics then provided you do the work you should find many opportunities for employment. But the thing I really want to mention is that it is not an automatic meal ticket: you will need to do other things to prepare for the workforce which are complementary or supplementary depending on your choice of language to the degree itself: this is not medical school but if you pay attention and keep an open and clear mind you will have a good chance IMO of getting a job. If I had to also add only one bit of advice to the above it would be to remain flexible in your approach to what you 'think you would do' and 'what you would do' because quite often jobs are not the same as university.

    Having said the above, specifically anything applied in my definition includes any kind of mathematics where you use a computer, write reports (especially for non-technical audiences), interpret real data or models that are 'messy' including relevant analysis and on top of this doing something that others either indirectly or directly make use of.

    This is a hard definition to write because I don't want to say that 'pure math' is not applied because in some contexts like security applications it is. People use mobile phones and therefore integral transforms is important but it's important to note the context that it's being used in. Also if you work say for a company, you're job may be to give advice to non-technical people that are responsible for making major decisions: this is the kind of thing that actuaries and engineers do in certain roles.

    In terms of whether anybody can do an applied mathematics major? I am inclined to say yes but I would advise that they really have to want to do it: it almost becomes a kind of lifestyle. Things like mathematics, programming, science, engineering and the like are knowledge based professions and with a knowledge based profession you don't necessarily reach a point where you an absolute expert: things are changing, ideas are continually flowing and being developed and if you don't want to do this kind of thing then I think mathematics is not for you.

    As for PhD students, I would prefer if people that are in a graduate program answered that but I can say that there is a lot of variation in what they do and it depends on things like the nature of their work, the department, who they are working with amongst other factors but I dare say that computational work of any sort is something that you probably can't avoid.

    In terms of 'what you could do' that is a very open question. Mathematicians can (and have) become teachers, radio presenters, theoretical physicists, security experts, consultants, hedge fund managers, computer technology startup founders, actors and the list goes on: it's important to realize that the degree doesn't have to constrain you and that a question like this is very open ended if you don't give specific information about the individual.

    I will say this though: if you can do highly technical work and tell people that don't even know what an integral is what it all means for them, the decision they are trying to make and for the business, I think you will get a lot of opportunities for very fruitful careers.
  4. Mar 21, 2012 #3
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    I'm an actuarial analyst at an insurance company.

    Most of the people in my department (and profession, for that matter) have a BS or MS in math.
  5. Mar 22, 2012 #4
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    Thank a lot chiro! U've helped a lot.
    And locrian I've heard about actuarial science and knoe in general what they do (they work for insurance companies, kind of like accountants??) The thing that I'm most consurned of is people saying you have to be of a certain personality to be an actuary. Is that true? (I'm an INTP btw)
  6. Mar 22, 2012 #5
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    I'm getting a degree in applied math right now, I will complement it with a computer science masters. I found these two links to be very useful: http://weusemath.org/ http://www.siam.org/careers/thinking/pdf/brochure.pdf
  7. Mar 23, 2012 #6
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    Careful, you'll anger actuaries. . . and accountants! Our jobs are very different.

    The biggest difference s uncertainty - accountants are trying to create a snapshot of a company's financial condition. They use our forecasts, but they don't typically do any forecasting themselves. If you ask an actuary what incurred claims were last year, you'll get an estimate. If you ask an accountant, you'll get the value on the financial statement. The first will change over time, the second is always the same.

    You do not need a certain personality to be an actuary. Actuarial work does attract a certain personality, but that can make those with different skills valuable.
  8. Mar 23, 2012 #7
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    To be a solid good traditional actuary vs. accountant. There are no traits that would be optimal to the pace of work that is standard and the goal (difficulty of problem solving).

    I was in an econometrics class and it seemed he did not appreciate accounting much. I think there is creativity involved; ie accounting vs. actuarial. Maybe too hard to compare.
  9. Mar 23, 2012 #8
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    What's the difference between Applied Mathematics and Pure Mathematics.
  10. Mar 23, 2012 #9
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    One would emphasize perceived practicality/result driven vs. something theoretical possibly with the goal of a deeper understanding.

    One is associated more with industry the other with academia.

    This is crude generalization.
  11. Mar 23, 2012 #10
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    It means that Applied Mathematics is more associated with Industries.
  12. Mar 23, 2012 #11
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    I know someone into crypto-analysis he does nearly all pure mathematics--It varies.

    Number theory is really interesting...anyways, I digress.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  13. Mar 24, 2012 #12
    Re: majoring in math?!?

    what is the curriculum for Applied Mathematics and Computational.
    I am 12th grade student and would like to go to college like IISC, Bangalore.
    I am applying to undergraduate course at IISC and here is the curriculum http://www.iisc.ernet.in/ug/UG-Math.pdf
    Is that curriculum enough for Applied Mathematics and Computational course.
    Should I apply for that?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
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