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What the heck does a mathmatician do?

  1. Feb 17, 2006 #1
    What does someone do once they get their PhD in Mathematics? Besides teaching, how many people that get math degrees actually work in the field of math, and get paid for it? Do they just prove theorums and things like that? I can understand that applied mathmeticians can use their kowledge for many practical things, but how do pure mathmaticians contribute to society, besides for knowleges sake by doing math proofs that havent been done before?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2006 #2
    You can solve crimes for the FBI through the use of shady mathematics. Fridays at 9 on CBS. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Feb 17, 2006 #3

    0rthodontist

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    Well as you said if you are doing applied math you can do a lot of applied things. My stats professor last year makes $150k because of his professorship + being a statistical consultant.
     
  5. Feb 18, 2006 #4
    Yes, I understand there are many useful things that an applied mathmatician can do with his knowledge. But what the heck can a pure mathmatician do that has any practical use? I also understand that math that is created by pure mathmaticians that at one time is considered to be very abstract and have no real application, then later applied scientists find ways to use that math tool. But do pure mathmaticians do anything that is of somewhat immediate practical importance and use?
     
  6. Feb 18, 2006 #5

    JasonRox

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    http://www3.ccps.virginia.edu/career_prospects/briefs/K-O/Mathematicians.shtml

    That's basically what I find.

    There is also mention that some companies hire Pure Mathematicians to solve problems in particular areas they have trouble in. Sounds like contract work basically.
     
  7. Feb 18, 2006 #6
  8. Feb 18, 2006 #7
    Your a math major, right JasonRox? What are you going to do when you gen out of school, or if you are alread out of school, what do you do?
     
  9. Feb 18, 2006 #8
    As stated by Manchot, you can use your superior math powers to fight crime. :rofl:
    I guess another possible job is being a computer programmer and/or technician.... I hear a lot of hired computer programmers were actually math majors. (And my friend's father is too)
     
  10. Feb 18, 2006 #9
    cryptography, write mathematical software, consult with applied science people. Cryptography is probably the biggy.
     
  11. Feb 18, 2006 #10

    JasonRox

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    I plan on going to Graduate School. :biggrin:

    As a job, I would like to become a professor, but that is a long road ahead. A job at a small local college will suffice, but I will ultimately try to land a job at a university.

    The thing I'd really like to do is to find 2 other mathematicians (after graduate school) that have a strong foundation in other areas other than mine, but also have some knowledge of each others respective areas. Then just collaborate about mathematics and to try and solve as many problems as we can. You might not get paid for this, but atleast you can do it while you have a job.

    Note: I have an business/accounting background so if I'm hurting, I'll fall back on that.
     
  12. Feb 18, 2006 #11
    JasonRox do you have any friend who does the same thing ? who do you think he is and is he really good ?
     
  13. Feb 18, 2006 #12

    JasonRox

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    Find someone who likes mathematics at my school? Impossible.
     
  14. Feb 18, 2006 #13
    You actually don't seem to figure out what I am asking. But that's a nice comment although I don't understand what it means.
     
  15. Feb 18, 2006 #14

    JasonRox

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    That I can't possibly find a friend to do mathematics right now.
     
  16. Feb 18, 2006 #15
    You have to inform yourself in public more, you will get more attention from people around. Some need to get paid to be friend with, some do all the stuff just for math funs.
     
  17. Feb 18, 2006 #16
    You have to inform yourself in public more, you will get more attention from people around. Some need to get paid to be friend with, some do all the stuff just for math funs.
     
  18. Feb 18, 2006 #17
    You have to inform yourself in public more, you will get more attention from people around. Some need to get paid to be friend with, some do all the stuff just for math funs.
     
  19. Feb 18, 2006 #18

    JasonRox

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    If I have to pay to be friends, then that certainly isn't a friend. I don't want to be associated with this person.

    Some do mathematics for fun, but certainly no one around here does.

    Note: I do it for fun.
     
  20. Feb 18, 2006 #19
    Pay someone to be a friend? What are you talking about Dumbo? What level are you currently at Jason? What is mean is, what classes are you currently taking, and what year are you?
     
  21. Feb 18, 2006 #20

    mathwonk

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    mathematicians get paid to teach and bring in grant money.

    but to be able to rest easy at night, they try to advance the knowledge of mathematics.

    odd as it may seem, there are people who enjoy thinking, about the same puzzles that have intrigued scholars for thousands of years, such as what is the structure of the set of prime numbers?

    or how many different geometric shapes can be formed by setting polynomials equal to zero, and how can one classify them?

    the question of whether these problems add to the ability of the US govt to kill foreigners, or to enhance the profit margin of Wall street, are not of primary concern to them.

    there are however extremely few people or even organizations with the foresight to fund this kind of free flowing intellectual activity, which only adds to the intrinsic worth of the society, and not to its practical inevntory of goods, and so again it is prudent to have a second source of income.

    I had a lawyer ask me the other day what was the use of knowing that there are infinitely many prime numbers, what good did it do anyone to know that? If that isn't ironic. I suppose the idea was that it is more useful to society to be able to cheat someone out of his property through clever writing of a contract, than to open his mind to the beauty of geometry or number theory.

    in the other direction, it does seem as if mathematicians are rather good at solving all kinds of problems in any direction they turn their attentiton. I.e. they are often successful in applied areas that interest them. my wife changed from math major to physician and is a really good physician, especially skilled at diagnosis of cases, occasionally saving lives by doing so.


    My son changed from mathematics to working in the development and maintenance of software used over the internet to help companies accomplish whatever business goals they have, and he is extremely good at it. he is still a problem solver, but in a different area, as is my wife.


    I still like to mull over and over the same old useless questions about the structure and behavior of differential equations, polynomials, cohomology groups, matrices, Riemann surfaces, ....


    a mathematician is some one who is curious, and bright, and willing to work hard at understanding, really deeply understanding things, and at using that understanding to explain previously mysterious phenomena. These qualities seem to be of value in many areas.


    So many people come to us for answers, like you for instance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2006
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