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Math Pure mathematics or statistics

  1. Apr 5, 2012 #1
    Should i choose pure mathematics or statistics as a major for my degree? I intend to do my masters n PhD to become a lecturer. which is d better path if i want to be an academician? i also heard dat pure maths esp math proof is vry rigorous but i'm nt sure if i'll like stats.. any advice?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2012 #2
    Wow. The last time I saw anyone type "dat" instead of "that", it was 2001.

    They were playing a game and pretending to be a troll.
     
  4. Apr 5, 2012 #3
    Slightly more seriously, all other things being equal you probably have a better (I didn’t say good) shot at a tenured position in statistics than pure math, if only because statisticians have a wider range of employment opportunities. This is not a bad reason to choose that path, anyway.

    But, really, how awesome you are is going to be much more important than which of these you pick. For either one, you’ll have to be pretty awesome to get a tenure track job. Not pretty good, or even really good, but awesome. This is because being qualified for a job is insufficient to obtain it; you must be better than the competition. So are you awesome? Because honestly, first impression, I’m not convinced.
     
  5. Apr 5, 2012 #4

    chiro

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    Hey since1992 and welcome to the forums.

    My advice for you would be to do a math course and take the year long intro probability and statistics sequence and decide after that. It won't give you a real complete exposure to what statistics is all about, but it should give you enough information to make a better decision.

    You could apply the same kind of thing with pure mathematics subjects as well.

    Absolutely agree with Locrian about the wide applicability of statistics as well and you should keep this in the back of your mind IMO.
     
  6. Apr 5, 2012 #5

    StatGuy2000

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    To the OP, I concur with chiro's suggestion of taking that math course and the introduction to probability and statistics course to see if this would be something you would be interested in.

    I would also add that a solid understanding in pure mathematics -- in particular, a background in analysis, linear algebra, some ODEs, etc -- along with strong programming skills gained by taking a few 1st to 2nd year computer science courses (all of which can be obtained with a major in math) will provide a solid background to pursue further graduate studies in statistics.
     
  7. Apr 6, 2012 #6

    Lol seriously? Cause i knw many ppl who type "dat" instead of "that" . And it's 2012. =)
     
  8. Apr 6, 2012 #7
    First of all, thanks fr replying. XD
    I cnt agree more dat statisticians hv a wider range of employment opportunities. However, what i'd really want is a career as a lecturer.And i do believe dat whether i cn be awesome or not as a pure mathematician or statistician depends on my interest as well as d amount of work i'm willing to put in.
     
  9. Apr 6, 2012 #8
    Thanks for replying chiro. Btw, can a pure mathematician work in industry? or r they restricted to only academia?
     
  10. Apr 6, 2012 #9
    Thx fr replying. =) i do plan to minor in comp science. Is it true dat stats is less rigorous than pure maths?
     
  11. Apr 6, 2012 #10

    StatGuy2000

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    I personally know one person with a pure mathematics PhD who is currently working in the financial field, so the short answer is yes, they can work in industry, depending on what other skills he/she may have acquired.

    It may be the case, however, that an applied mathematician could be more employable in industry than a pure mathematician, although I don't have any empirical evidence that this is the case.
     
  12. Apr 6, 2012 #11
    Aight brah, check it - pure mathematicians are da bomb. Honeys be crawling up to ya tryina get in yo pants, and u gotta be all like "contain yourself, saucy wench, I have to go prove the Riemann Hypothesis." Algebraic Structures? More like big black booty, playa.

    One caveat of pure mathematics should be mentioned: you can't do much with a BS / BA. You usually need a PhD. And if pure mathematics isn't your thing (like you aren't one of the best in the country), then you won't end up with a PhD.
     
  13. Apr 6, 2012 #12

    StatGuy2000

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    Well, that would depend on what kind of statistics degree you are pursuing, at what level.

    I know that a number of schools have Msc or PhD programs in applied statistics which are separate from the main Msc or PhD program in statistics, and these programs are less rigorous than graduate programs in pure mathematics (at least in the sense of being required to do advanced proofs). This would also apply to graduate programs in biostatistics (which are frequently offered under the medical school or graduate school of public health, and thus separate from other statistics departments).

    However, in the PhD program in most statistics programs that I'm aware, there is a requirement for students to take courses in and pass a written exam (usually after the 1st year) on probability theory and theoretical statistics (as well as applied statistics), and those areas are just as rigorous as any area in pure mathematics.
     
  14. Apr 6, 2012 #13
    This may be limited by the number of departments I've looked at, but almost every one of them requires at least a full year of graduate level analysis before you start taking graduate level probability theory. Many of the same programs also require passing the standard Algebra, Analysis, Topology qualifying exams before you start doing applied work (prob/stats) towards your PhD.

    That being said, I'd considering doing as much of a pure math focus as you can do as an undergrad to prepare yourself for passing your qualifying exams in grad school ... while taking at least a single prob/stats course (or many if you can fit it into your schedule) to give yourself a taste of what the field is like ... even if it's just at an introductory level.

    Like many of the others said as well, becoming a "lecturer" is much easier said than done. These are some very rough (educated guess) numbers that may help illuminate your current view of the field you want to be getting into:

    Let's say a prof has a 35 year career and they only advise one student at a time for a period of 5 years. They have graduated 7 PhDs by the time they retire ... only 1, maybe 2 of them (due to university / population growth) will be hired in their place. Some may go on to teach at non-PhD granting institutions, and others will go into industry, so these things must be factored in, but even still, positions are much lower in number than the number of qualified PhDs in the applicant pool to fill them.

    That being said ... factor in a plan B (or C, or D) now, while you're young and have loads of options. If academia is still what you think you want to do, work as hard as you can if you actually want a teaching position: straight As, as much pure math as possible, and even more applied stuff if you can fit it in your schedule = you'll have a much better shot at making that happen, but even then there's still elements of luck, timing, and politics to deal with.
     
  15. Apr 6, 2012 #14

    StatGuy2000

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    I agree with pretty much everything that has been stated above (although I would presume that there may possibly be more teaching positions available if one is flexible or open to relocating, possibly to other countries).

    The one advantage of pursuing graduate studies in statistics is that there is considerable demand as of this time (in both the US and overseas) for people with PhD level expertise in many different industries, and there seems to be no reason to believe that this would change in the near future. Therefore, it should be relatively easy to come up with multiple back-up plans in case an academic career track is no longer appealing.
     
  16. Apr 6, 2012 #15
    :rofl: Literally cryed I laughed so hard.
     
  17. Apr 8, 2012 #16
    Thank you all for replying. Another question i have is if i am to become a lecturer, would they prefer someone who has a BS in statistics or pure mathematics? Cause i noticed most of the lecturers in my school have a Bs in mathematics.
     
  18. Apr 9, 2012 #17
    You might also want to take some writing classes. Communication skills are very important for lecturers.

    Also, I'd say a bachelors in Mathematics Education is perfect for you. You wouldn't even need to go to one of those pesky graduate programs.
     
  19. Apr 9, 2012 #18
    I have what is effectively a stats degree, say 6 stats courses. But I've also done courses on real analysis, complex analysis, modern algebra, linear algebra, math modelling & engineering maths.

    There is no reason you cant do a bit of each.
     
  20. Apr 9, 2012 #19

    chiro

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    I would recommend the OP take your suggestion since everything in mathematics complements everything else in some way or another due it its very nature. The emphasis here is anything applied and then some.
     
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