Where do I start with math?

Contribution series mathematics

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Prof. Dr. Burkhard Kümmerer

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What perspectives does mathematics open up? Except for my math teachers, I don't really know any mathematicians. What can you do with a degree in mathematics, and what are the career opportunities?
There is hardly any other subject where career opportunities are as varied and as good as in mathematics. Mathematicians can be used universally and therefore often fill in positions that are not externally recognizable as mathematicians' positions. Mathematicians are like mathematics: indispensable, but difficult to identify.



Lawyers, doctors, theologians and many others are clearly identifiable as such, often from the telephone book or on the name tag. Where are the mathematicians now? Wherever there is mathematics and in many other areas. Because mathematicians can do math and much more: they can bring thought order into confusing and complex situations, e.g. by analyzing, simplifying in an appropriate way, getting to the point, understanding intuitively and remaining precise. The latter distinguishes mathematicians in particular: Mathematics educates them to think precisely: when it comes to a high level of security and reliability, all, really all, options must be thought through and taken into account, not just the regular cases, but also the exceptional situations. Mathematicians are needed and hired for all of these skills.



technology



Mathematics is a key science. Where there is high technology, there is also mathematics. Let's take a car: it starts with the design of the tire profile: the tires should be easy to grip but quiet. The body should be streamlined, but also shapely; both can be captured mathematically. The shape of the body has to be described mathematically, otherwise the presses won't know what to do. The optimal design of the combustion processes in the cylinder leads right into the highly topical mathematical field of turbulence. If it is now possible to carry out many crash tests in computers to increase security, it is thanks to mathematics: only ingenious mathematical processes allow such complicated processes to be calculated in a short time, even on fast computers - you know what a car can look like after a crash ...



Wherever it becomes digital, e.g. with GPS, it also becomes mathematical. Digital information is secured against errors, compressed, encrypted and separated from other information; all this with mathematical algorithms. However, this list is far from complete. What is true for a car is also true for every other product of modern technology, for airplanes and trains, for cell phones and ATMs, for optical devices and modern materials, not to mention the IT industry. Of course, these products are not developed by mathematicians alone, but they are involved everywhere, always in a team to which they bring their skills.



Financial world



A classic professional field for mathematicians is insurance and banking. Developing products for the financial market is a demanding business; it is called financial engineering. There is a lot of sophisticated math involved here, at least since F. Black, R.C. Merton and M. Scholes revolutionized the financial markets around 1973 with their mathematical considerations on fair option price valuation (the latter two received the 1997 Nobel Prize for Economics, F. Black died in 1995). Of course, all of these products also have to be checked: Controlling departments are now a classic field of activity for mathematicians: They take a close look.



Business consulting, management, logistics



And then there are countless professions that no longer have a connection to mathematics. Here mathematicians bring their analytical skills and structuring thinking to the fore. This applies initially to all areas of middle and senior management. Management consultancies are another typical example. At some large consulting firms, about half the employees have a degree in mathematics. In the near future, there will be a great need for mathematicians in the field of transportation systems. Mathematicians are already involved in the organization of local transport systems and timetables, sometimes unfortunately not. Mathematicians are happy to be employed wherever complicated logistical tasks have to be mastered: Mathematics is the organization of complexity and this is exactly where it is needed.



Teaching and Research



The occupational fields mentioned above also show how important mathematics is for the functioning of our world. She can only fulfill this role in the future if, on the one hand, a broad basic understanding of mathematics is imparted in schools and, on the other hand, if mathematics is continuously developed in order to be prepared for new tasks. Mathematics teachers therefore fulfill an important task for society; they are always in demand. Most universities also offer courses for high school teaching, mathematics in combination with at least one other subject for school. Mathematical research mainly takes place at universities, Max Planck Institutes and research centers of large companies. The positions in research are few and far between. So you can embark on a research career, but you shouldn't rely on it.



Companies need mathematicians



So the career prospects for mathematicians are excellent. All statistics show that there are practically no younger mathematicians among the long-term unemployed. Most positions are not advertised specifically for mathematicians. However, a look at the required qualifications often shows that mathematicians have good chances here, and they often prevail in the application process, because the specific skills and flexible application options of mathematicians are increasingly valued. The list of the professional fields mentioned is by no means complete; it can only give a first impression of the universal applicability of mathematicians. Much more information can be found in the Career and Career Planner Mathematics 2006 cited below.



Mathematicians work in a team



One more word about the work environment: a mathematician does not usually work alone at a desk in the corner. On the contrary, communication skills and the ability to work in a team are important qualifications for mathematicians: Often you will find yourself as the only mathematician in a motley team. They will be the point of contact for all problems that even remotely smell like mathematics. In many cases you will first have to peel out the actual problem in order to then solve it as possible and then pass the solution on to your non-mathematical colleagues in a usable form.


5/6


Based on 76 ratings.

January 18, 2014 by Andreas Zoeller
For universal use I understand Prof K. Contribution not in relation to specialist knowledge, but mediated thinking. Solution strategies for solving problems My understanding of a mathematician has long ceased to be the "formula nerd" in the dark rather a person who asks the right questions when finding solutions in the team. Recognizing implications, relationships and conclusions is often of more interest in many professions than solving a DiffGl n order.
April 5th, 2013 by Georg Helmholz
"Mathematicians can be used universally and therefore often fill in positions that are not externally recognizable as mathematicians' positions." That is all! Very few mathematicians do math after graduation. This means that all of the knowledge acquired in the course of study becomes worthless in one fell swoop, so that you start all over again in your job. Maths studies are a complete waste of time, both for those who have been disappointed by poor didactic lectures and are actually interested in the subject, as well as for everyone else who would have hoped for a secure, well-paid job. Before studying math for a diploma or master’s degree, you prefer to become a teacher or do an apprenticeship right away and save yourself a lot of time, money and nerves! It is unbelievable how many lies are spread about the STEM courses. It will lead entire generations to ruin!
April 5th, 2013 by Georg Helmholz
"Mathematicians can be used universally and therefore often fill in positions that are not externally recognizable as mathematicians' positions." That is all! Very few mathematicians do math after graduation. This means that all of the knowledge acquired in the course of study becomes worthless in one fell swoop, so that you start all over again in your job. Studying math is a complete waste of time, both for those who have been disappointed by poor didactic lectures and are actually interested in the subject, as well as for anyone else who would have hoped for a secure, well-paid job. Before studying math for a diploma or master’s degree, you prefer to become a teacher or do an apprenticeship right away and save yourself a lot of time, money and nerves! It is unbelievable how many lies are spread about the STEM courses. It will lead entire generations to ruin!


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