Math degrees

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Re: Math degrees

Postby lightheir » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:58 pm

Math + Big Data = Career Win
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Re: Math degrees

Postby pjtallman » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:16 pm

BS Applied Mathematics, been employed 20+ years as software engineer. As others said, can do most anything with a Math degree and earn a decent salary.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby lightheir » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:20 pm

Then again, with all the software engineers speaking up here, makes you wonder if you'd be even better off with a legit CS degree.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby Default User BR » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:28 pm

lightheir wrote:Then again, with all the software engineers speaking up here, makes you wonder if you'd be even better off with a legit CS degree.

It certainly won't hurt these days. Back in the day, the need for software engineers was well ahead of schools educating people. Many of us started in other areas and moved into the soft life[1].


1. Hope that's not a violation of Livesoft(tm)

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Re: Math degrees

Postby Rodc » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:46 pm

lightheir wrote:Then again, with all the software engineers speaking up here, makes you wonder if you'd be even better off with a legit CS degree.


I am in research engineering, I need most of my software people to have a solid grasp of engineering, physics, mathematics. We don't hire a ton of pure software folks, though we do hire some. I guess it would be more correct to say I need engineers, mathematicians and physicists who can also write software.

That said, someone could certainly take a minor in those subjects along with CS and do ok. My sense from my folks is it is easier to be self taught, mentored on the job in software than in mathematics.

But I recognize I work in a narrow field not in mainstream software development.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby livesoft » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:11 pm

A sibling of mine went back to school after being unemployed living the soft life for more than 20 years to get a PhD in Mathematics. The sibling now teaches Mathematics at a college and has summers off.

So despite the 'what else besides teaching', one can even teach. :)
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby lostInFinance » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:04 pm

Rodc wrote:That said, someone could certainly take a minor in those subjects along with CS and do ok. My sense from my folks is it is easier to be self taught, mentored on the job in software than in mathematics.


I tend to think of CS, as opposed to just coding, as being a branch of applied math.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby Rodc » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:44 am

lostInFinance wrote:
Rodc wrote:That said, someone could certainly take a minor in those subjects along with CS and do ok. My sense from my folks is it is easier to be self taught, mentored on the job in software than in mathematics.


I tend to think of CS, as opposed to just coding, as being a branch of applied math.


That is not far off if you are talking graduate level CS, at least in some cases. Is it also true these days at the BS level?

I suspect there are various tracks as well. Just as electrical engineering covers a vast space of activities some very mathematical and some not, I would think CS does as well. Is a deep understanding of SOA for example applied math?
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby FNK » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:08 pm

This software engineer chimed in about that earlier in the thread. For more detail: many CS programs are getting watered down these days. Going to a university merely to learn Java is a very unwise investment. You need to develop an analytical brain. A math degree will do that.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby reggiesimpson » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:54 am

A "B" in math trumps an "A" in history any day of the week.

I second a career as an actuarial for your son.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby magician » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:48 am

Tom_T wrote:So... what types of jobs are typically available to a new graduate with a math degree?

I have a Bachelor's in Math and a Master's in Math (and a Bachelor's in Accounting). My business degree has never gotten me a job anywhere (though it was quite useful when I was studying for the CFA exams).

Here's what I've done with a Math degree:

  • Written software to run numerical control systems (milling machines, lathes, punch presses, coördinate measuring machines)
  • Written software to write software to run numerical control systems
  • Written software to navigate using GPS satellites
  • Written software to navigate using deep ocean transponders (like GPS upside-down)
  • Written software to simulate the dynamics of various types of military vehicles (e.g., tanks, fighter jets)
  • Analyzed (and improved) the efficiency of computational algorithms
  • Developed finite-element models (FEMs) for various types of military and nonmilitary hardware
  • Designed Explosively-Formed Penetrator (EFP) warheads
  • Analyzed the lethality of various weapon systems
  • Written Monte Carlo simulations and other algorithms to determine the optimal design of EFP warheads
  • Developed algorithms to generate FEMs used in EFP warhead design
  • Developed algorithms to analyze the construction of petroleum processing facilities
  • Written software to control freeway-monitoring cameras
  • Developed (and improved the performance of) algorithms to determine option-adjusted spreads (OASs) on mortgage-backed securities (MBSs)
  • Developed algorithms to predict prepayment speeds on MBSs
  • Developed software to integrate project cost risk and schedule risk analyses
  • Written software to simulate bond markets
  • Written software to analyze investment portfolios
  • Written software to generate graphical output for several of the above
  • Developed cash flow models for community development financial institutions (CDFIs)
  • Taught university mathematics
  • Taught project risk management, project cost management, and cash flow analysis
  • Taught review courses for all three levels of the CFA exams
  • Developed models to analyze cost risk and schedule risk on construction projects (e.g., nuclear power plants, cancer treatment centers)
  • Written software to analyze optimal wagering strategies for sports bettors
  • Entertained audiences as a professional magician
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Re: Math degrees

Postby Kielke » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:30 am

I have a Bachelors and Masters in Math, recently left school, and got a job as a software developer almost instantly (in Michigan no less). That being said while degrees are nice and help say "I have these skills," someone could have every degree possible and still not be hired if they do not present themselves well. In fact I dare say the most important skill to getting any sort of job is People Skills. Having good people skills opens up far more doors ( especially when attached to other skills such as Math or Computer Science) than just Math or CS alone.

But, to go with other peoples comments, if you do major in Mathematics in College you must be prepared to at least minor in one more applicable area: such as statistics, computer science, economics/finance. Often when you really look into it you should take so many additional classes that you are nearly having a second major. Very few companies hire people that just studied math without knowing that they are going to be a bit of a "project" employee for a little while. This can be slightly limiting in very tough times when companies need more for less right now, but in the long run most companies know that the math grads they hire as projects usually work out well for the logical reasoning mentioned above, and because of the high level of abstraction they tend to be a bit more like a sponge and able to visualize more complex systems in their mind far easier than most non math people.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby thatwhichisgood » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:09 pm

Our son has a BS in math & physics...now with a PhD in theoretical physics... There is all kinds of medical/physiology/biology science going on. He's been working for a geneticist for a number of years now.

This is briefly the project he works on is doing..."Using the larva of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to study the neural circuitry underlying somatosensation and motor function."

Be sure to have your son check out the NASA Space Grant Program~ It's at a variety of Universities. Great program to introduce and learn about the vast world of math and science waiting for them. It's not just about "Space"
http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/spacegrant/home/index.html It also gave him a community to connect too with shared interests, support and resources.

Math Modeling is a great skill set to add to his toolbox...something for him to check out too.

Best Wishes
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Re: Math degrees

Postby gwrvmd » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:14 pm

You might investigate the CFA program (Chartered Financial Analyst) a 2 - 4yr math heavy program. Employed by mutual funds, retirement funds, endowments, insurance companies, hedge funds etc. Course heavy in accounting and statistics. Employment opportunities appear good...Gordon
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Re: Math degrees

Postby magician » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:29 pm

gwrvmd wrote:You might investigate the CFA program (Chartered Financial Analyst) a 2 - 4yr math heavy program. Employed by mutual funds, retirement funds, endowments, insurance companies, hedge funds etc. Course heavy in accounting and statistics. Employment opportunities appear good...Gordon

Amen:

magician wrote:I have a Bachelor's in Math and a Master's in Math (and a Bachelor's in Accounting). My business degree has never gotten me a job anywhere (though it was quite useful when I was studying for the CFA exams).

Here's what I've done with a Math degree:
.
.
.

  • Taught review courses for all three levels of the CFA exams
.
.
.

To be fair, however, the statistics isn't all that big a portion of the exams (12% at Level I, 5% - 10% at Level II, none at Level III). There's math in the economics, accounting, corporate finance, equity, fixed income, portfolio management, derivatives, and alternative investments topic areas in the CFA exams, but it's nothing that would require a math degree; a business degree with an emphasis in finance would be sufficient. I wouldn't describe it as "math-heavy".

Also, at a minimum the CFA program involves 2½ years of studying for and taking three extremely difficult exams; in practice, most candidates take 4 - 5 years to pass all of the exams (and some much longer: see here, and here, for example). There is also a 4-year work experience requirement to get the charter, so it will take at least that long irrespective of how quickly one passes the exams.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby Stonebr » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:38 pm

I majored in math. Got a BA and an MA. Dropped out of PhD program to make money. Retired at 60.

A few job opportunities: Actuary, Wall Street Geek, Coding theory (NSA, CIA, etc). I also had friends who did HS and college teaching. Another made a career in the Federal Reserve systems department.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby cheapskate » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:58 am

vchiu25 wrote:Liking math in high school is going to be really different from liking math in college.

I liked math in high school, but when I get to all the theoretical stuff in college it was over my head. The applied math stuff is half math half computer science. But it gets pretty theoretical as well.


+1

Same experience here. Really enjoyed high school math (Trig/Calculus). Went to college thinking I'd major in Math/Statistics. Pretty quickly, I had to tackle Real Analysis (with all it's epsilon-delta histrionics) and Abstract Algebra (groups/rings/fields etc). Disliked both of these subjects - too dry and abstract for my liking, and very hard requiring a lot of effort on my part. I could never get myself to put in the effort to learn either of these. Somehow, barely survived through both. Switched to Statistics as my major. Even in Statistics, Measure Theory is similarly unappetizing - but that class is easy to opt out of :). Finally switched to CS for my Masters and working as a programmer after my MS. The great thing is that after all those Math and Stats classes, graduate level CS classes were an absolute walk in the park.

It is a good idea to get an early taste of things like (advanced undergrad level) Analysis and Algebra before deciding to major in math. Beyond a certain point, all math requires a solid grounding in either of those 2 things, it looks like.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby FNK » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:00 pm

cheapskate wrote:The great thing is that after all those Math and Stats classes, graduate level CS classes were an absolute walk in the park.

That's so true!

The class that effectively kicked off my career was Graduate Computer Graphics, considered to be among the hardest CS courses in the school. Well, not after studying Algebraic Geometry for a couple of years!

Shame you didn't have the taste for Abstract Algebra though. ;-)
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Re: Math degrees

Postby Epsilon Delta » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:13 pm

cheapskate wrote:It is a good idea to get an early taste of things like (advanced undergrad level) Analysis and Algebra before deciding to major in math. Beyond a certain point, all math requires a solid grounding in either of those 2 things, it looks like.

Well, you could go into set theory and logic, not much Analysis or Algebra there.

If a high schooler is thinking about going into math I'd recommend getting him some of Martin Gardner's mathematical games books (or some more modern equivalent). http://www.ansible.co.uk/misc/mgardner.html If they like the school courses but not the books they may prefer Engineering or Computer Science to Math.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby ESK » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:44 pm

ted123 wrote:My wife has a math degree and worked as an actuary right out of college (she got a graduate degree in a different field later).

The government agency I work for employs a fair number of people with math backgrounds in analytical positions, doing both statistical analysis and modeling.

There's also probably a lot of people who don't "use their math degree" in their work, but whose math degree made them attractive to employers.

I also agree. I have an undergraduate degree in mathematics.

Math is really hard and having a math degree always made me stand out to high paying employers (in management information systems and later in law). Especially since I am a woman and it is unusual for women to major in math. The degree also helped me get into a very good graduate school.
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Re: Math degrees

Postby jackholloway » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:55 pm

I have found that physics, math, and engineering degrees are all useful when looking for jobs as long as I made the case that my degree and my background together suited me for the job I was applying for. When the job focussed on something that the degrees did not speak to, I added more experience, but when the degree made me the right fit, I emphasized class work.

That story has two components - you first need to show some skills that will be useful on the very first day, and you also need to show some passion for whatever it is that the company does. Sometimes a cover letter will let you make the case, but you should also look at your resume itself, with no cover letter, from the viewpoint of a jaded hiring manager. Does it say "this is the person you want for the job you have", or does it say "I want a different job"? This is really hard to tell by yourself, so find someone who hires people, and just ask.

I have written econometric forecasting software, database query tools, front end visualization tools, screen savers, games, biodata capture systems, and mobile apps. I have done pure server side, pure client side, and mixed web and ecommerce apps too. I even dusted off some graduate school work and wrote a nonlinear equation solver that I am still pretty proud of. I do not consider these very different at their hearts - simulation, modeling, software engineering - but I had to package the same skills in very different ways to make the pitch for each job.

From the other side of the table, I find math degrees very handy if they have some practicality to them. I like to see probability, statistics, some programming classes, the odd engineering class, etc. I also like to see some humanities - a music degree will probably not get you a job from me, but a music degree in addition to a STEM degree will get my attention. Calling out skill at writing, creating and giving presentations, doing library research and winnowing the wheat from the chaff are all valuable job skills.

At the end of the day, everyone who works for me will eventually work for someone else. I hope to hire people who will do great things, learn a lot, and teach me and the rest of my group something we did not know. A math degree shows skill at learning, and doing something very technical that is almost entirely inside your own head, followed by communication with the rest of the world. That is applicable to almost any job.
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