what does a mathematician actually DO?

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Im not at all math savvy. In fact the opposite. I was having a conversation about math with a colleague and I realized that other than teaching i have no idea what someone with a math degree or a “Mathematician” actually does? Im curious now. Whats their day like? Who employs them?

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Depends a lot on what you specialize in. Some work in math research, some work in IT, some work in financial analysis, or insurance risk calculations.

I’m an engineering researcher but in a very theorethical field so many of my colleagues studied math. We optimize differential equation systems to improve the control of industrial machines. Our work schedule is like 80% writing code to execute our math, 10% debating with each other over equations and 10% talking to “customers” about their goals and specifications.

Lots of industries and companies need to build models of complex systems: business analysts, stock traders, insurance actuaries, sports teams, engineering firms. Other people can also build such models, but mathematicians are the specialists at this. The tech giants employ lots of mathematicians to analyse human behaviour (you may have heard of big data).

Then there are the complex systems that companies themselves need. The software that banks use to keep track of and move money around are naturally incredibly complex. Again a mathematician would have useful skills here.

Sometimes mathematicians are also useful in the industry because if the way learned to reason and solve problems. Math studies require the ability to focus on one problem and find the most efficient solution for this, it requires rational thinking (als logic is also a great part of mathematics) and mathematicians are used to not being able to solve a problem on first sight but to think and riddle about it to get it done. These qualities are useful in a lot of fields, e.g. I know a lot of Managers and Consultants who a mathematicians but obviously mainly use their soft skills instead of the math part they have learned.

I have a friend that’s a mathematician. Do does research for a university but he has to go out and find his work. I.e. he gets companies to sponsor grants for him to solve a problem they might have. Turns out a big user of this sort of research is the government, more specifically the military. They are always thinking up new ideas to see if they can get x information out of y. I can’t give you any specific examples because he wasn’t allowed to share them, because military. That said, he may have gave me a couple really good examples that would make you think that there is absolutely no way that that could be done. Turns out it can be done. But he absolutely did not tell me.

Mathematician here. My regular job is as an analyst. Analyzing large data sets to identify trends, writing formulas, and yes debating the proper way to calculate metrics with my colleagues.

I do a lot of work related to Lean Six Sigma, which is optimization and problem solving. Mathematicians are excellent problem solvers! We use logical thinking and break down problems into smaller components to identify root causes.

Also, some statistics is involved with creating control charts and calculating the confidence intervals of the analyses.