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What is math grad school like?

  1. Mar 12, 2010 #1
    I've decided to major in mathematics but I need to know something: so, what exactly does a graduate student in mathematics do?

    I assume a grad student in physics, chemistry, or biology will spend their academic time in class and performing experiments with there professors, but a mathematician has no experiments to perform.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2010 #2
    That's kind of funny; I asked almost the exact same question back in October. Here's a link to that thread:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=343271


    fantispug gives a wonderful answer, however I've done quite a bit of reading (and studying) since then and I feel that there is one additional element that should be emphasized. fantispug touches on it when he says,
    However, Steven Krantz (A Mathematician's Survival Guide), Courant & Robbins (What Is Mathematics?), Ian Stewart (Letters To A Young Mathematician, as well as the introduction to the second edition of WIM?), come right out and say it, but I think it was best expressed in this (perhaps) apocryphal story about David Hilbert from Derbyshire's book Prime Obsession:

    The point being, imagination and creativity are essential for (pure) mathematics research, a revelation that rather surprised me when I stumbled across it and one that is quite a bit removed from my previous misconception that it would only involve a great deal of number-crunching and calculating.
     
  4. Mar 13, 2010 #3
    Its actually, quite a bit more boring than this. Most of my time is spent just doing homework and projects and helping other people with their homework and projects. Research is only done when I have free time which isn't very often.

    Although I'm an engineering major, I would imagine mathematics wouldn't be that much different.
     
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