Mathematics – A survival guide

http://www.math.missouri.edu/~pete/pdf/teach/140.MAA.pdfIn Peter Casazza’s note “A Mathematician’s Survival Guide” he comments on many stereotypes that mathematicians have both within the community and to the outside world. While it is 18 pages long, the note is a well written and a fairly quick read (definitely recommended!). You can read it here: http://www.math.missouri.edu/~pete/pdf/teach/140.MAA.pdf.

Some points that I found particularly interesting were:

1. How the Fields medal is overrated, and contributes to many mathematician’s low self esteem and paranoia about getting work done before the age of 40.

2. Meeting Mr. Big shot in your area of math and how to hang out with the “cool kids.”

3. Maintaining confidence without being overconfident.

The part of the article I liked the best is entitled “Assisted Suicide” (p.11). He talks about how pure mathematicians look down on applied mathematicians and visa versa and everyone looks down on people in math education. He points out how, as a community, we are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot by doing this. Casazza notes that given the challenges in modern mathematics would be beneficial for all mathematicians to come together, but as a community we are more inclined to compete instead of collaborate.

In conclusion, it really is a great article and gives you a good break from doing all the work you need to this week. Looking forward to reading the comments.

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