Mathematician Career Information
What a Mathematician does
If number crunching is your favourite past time a new and exciting career awaits you - that of a Mathematician. Mathematicians give us the logic to understand the forms, objects, forces and energy that we see everyday. They specialize in different branches such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, etc.
Your job as a Mathematician will be to use mathematics as a tool to solve practical and theoretical problems in business, defence, science, engineering and others. Mathematics as a subject used to be only of theoretical importance for a long time. But with the complexities in Applied Science and Technology increasing, the applications of Mathematics are finding new areas.
For example, Computer Science, System Automation, Biotechnology, and Geology. Mathematicians are not only involved in theoretical research but are also engaged in finding out ways of application in the industrial sector.
University departments, colleges, and other educational institutions as faculty members/ lecturers Mathematical Research institutions like Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Institute of Mathematical Science, etc. Mathematician also find opportinities in other research and development organisations in the field of Applied Science like Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Scientific Research at Bangalore. Information technology companies specially those, which are developing application and system software to be used in scientific research and technology development, industrial automation software, etc provide ample scope for mathematicians. Large-scale manufacturing companies in their operational research and quality Control departments also employ mathematicians. Mathematicians are needed in such areas as operations research, statistics, computer science, applied mathematical physics and actuarial science. Other industries that employ mathematicians include AeroSpace, Oil, Electrical Manufacturing, Communications, Data Processing and Insurance.
New interdisciplinary professions : The merging of mathematics with Biology, Medicine, Management and Social Sciences - particularly Economics and Psychology has resulted in the emergence of new interdisciplinary professions in which mathematicians play a central role. This provides an opportunity to combine mathematical training with other disciplines. Some examples of these interdisciplinary disciplines are Informatics, Bioinformatics, etc.
Exciting Opportunities in Various Fields: Rapid developments in the field of computer science has thrown in exciting opportunities for mathematicians in various fields like Computer Science, System Science, Quality control, etc.
Online education: The newly emerging online education field, which, according to the industry pundits, is going to be the largest industry segment in the area of Information Technology, will need a number of mathematicians as faculty members and educational consultant.
Apart from these exciting fields there are opportunities in pure mathematical research areas like algebraic geometry, number theory, Topology, Commutative Algebra, etc.
Abilities & Traits Required
As a Mathematician you require an eye for detail and a love for study and experimentation. These are essential attributes for those taking up natural and mathematical sciences. As a Mathematician you should love crunching numbers and theories with a strong ability to solve complex analytical problems.
As a Mathematician you should have a significantly above average abstract reasoning skill. You should be very strong in all areas of Mathematics like Algebra, Geometry, Calculus and others if you plan to be a Mathematician.
As a Mathematician you can also get into various social sciences research like in Management, Developmental Studies, etc.
In order to spot mathematical talent among high school children, the Mathematical Olympiad is conducted under the aegis of the National Board of Higher Mathematics (NBHM).
The Mathematical Olympiad leading to India’s participation in the international Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) consists of various stages beginning with the Regional Mathematics Olympiad (RMO), followed by the Indian National Mathematics Olympiad (INMO), the International Mathematics Olympiad Training Camp (IMOTC) and finally the IMO.
For entry into the field of Mathematics, you need to have a degree in Mathematics or a BSc in Pure Science or BE / BTech with a strong aptitude for Mathematics.
Then you could specialize in various fields like Computer Applications, Operations Research, Industrial Mathematics and Informatics, Computer Science, Statistics, Information Technology, Electronics, etc. After a Master's degree in Mathematics or an integrated Doctoral fellowship in Mathematics, as a Mathematician you could do a Post Doctoral Fellowship. To be into research, a PhD is a must.
After a Master's degree as a Mathematician you can also get into research in the areas of Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, System Science, Operational Research, Automation, Astronomy, etc.
In university and research organizations: Rs.35000-45000 per month (starting salary after PhD)
School teachers: Rs 25000-35000 a month to start with.
In a software firm after MSc: Rs 40000-45000 or more.
In other industries: Rs 25000-35000 or more depending on your qualifications and aptitudes.
Interview with a Mathematician
Mathematician Interview Shakuntala Devi, Mathematician
Often referred to as the Human Computer Shakuntala Devi first gave evidence of her mathematical genius when she was three years old. She had no formal education and simply picked up reading and writing. In 1981, she appeared in the Guineas Book of World Records for multiplying two 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds! She has written on a variety of subjects and her published work includes books for children and a crime novel, Perfect Murder.
When was the first time you realised that you had a special gift for mathematical calculations? I never realised that I had any special talent. I just started doing these things as entertainment. My father used to perform magic tricks in schools and colleges and I would often accompany him. I was doing these tricks in numbers as part of the show. I never realised when being a Mathematician became a full-time obsession.
What was your parents' reaction when you started showing more than an interest in mathematics? They didn't realise much about me being a Mathematician as they were both uneducated. But they were very happy as I was earning a living for the family.
Tell us a little about your childhood. I was born in Bangalore. There are no pleasant memories of my childhood. Those were very difficult days. I wasn't sure if I could have my next meal. I used to hate myself for having to slog for my meals. I wanted to go to school much like other girls my age, play with them and lead a carefree life. But that was not meant to be. The entire family depended on my earnings from shows where I regaled the audiences with my mathematical tricks. But as I grew older I rested on the fact that this is what I was destined to do.
As a child, I toured all over India exhibiting my talent not only in numbers but telling the exact day of the week of any date, month, year of the past or future. I also took my first tour of Europe in 1950 when I was barely eight.
With no formal education how did you go on to become the wizardess of mathematics? Even though I don't have any formal education I have authored 14 books in English. One of them is titled 'Awaken The Genius In Your Child.' So I feel formal education is not absolutely necessary. If you have basic common sense and tremendous exposure things just come from within you.
Can you share with us a memorable moment? I remember this incident very vividly. I was invited by BBC to demonstrate my mathematical prowess. It was a live programme. Within seconds of hearing the problem posed to me, I was able to tell the interviewer that the problem was worked out wrong. The interviewer did a quick check-up and confessed that BBC's calculation was wrong. Similarly, when I was giving a demonstration at the University of Rome, I proved that the machine was wrong and I was right!
What apart from mathematical calculations interest you? I love writing. In fact I have been writing short stories for children. Mind you it's not just mathematics that I write on. I have penned books on cooking. Of course most of my books deal with problems and shortcuts in mathematics. I also hold mathematical workshops for children in Hyderabad.
What are you currently working on? I have just come up with a movie script based on mathematics.
A movie based on mathematics?
Yes, it's a proper Hindi, masala movie. A murder mystery.
You have numerous awards to your credit including an entry in the guineas Book of world records. What's next?
I feel I have done nothing in this world. I still have a lot more I want to do.
Like what? First on the list is getting this movie produced. I am hoping that it will be an all-time classic that will live for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.
Then I want to establish a very big mathematical institute in Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka. That's my ambition in life.
Will there be another genius like you? I can't answer that one. May be there will be. Depends on the motivation. For me it was all a question of motivation. The biggest motivation was my meals. Then as you go on doing something day in and day out you tend to improve yourself, work on it and then you begin to fall in love with it.
How do you better yourself? I am a voracious reader. So that keeps me in tune with what's happening with the world. Sometimes I just close my eyes and try to relax. You might call that meditation but I simply call it unwinding.
Is mathematics a good career option? Mathematics is something you have to be passionately fond of. You can't beat a child and make him interested in mathematics. It has to come from within.
Then why is mathematics such a dreaded subject for most students? That's because it is so exact. 2+2 has to make 4. It can't make 5 or 6. It can't be anything else. That's why people are so scared of mathematics.
- Nivedita Jayaram Pawar