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on November 1, 2003
Although the book has been written for prospective graduate
students in mathematics at top universities, I still read it,
to get an idea what such math graduate studies are all about.
And it was quite rewarding, because the author shares all the
information about the educational process, from college to
full professorship, as lucidly as possible. The math scene
described in this book reminds a little of a cult. People
outside the brightest of the brightest, like me, and like
most of humanity, might feel somewhat embarassed. But it was
not written for us. The details of the book are too many
to be represented by examples here, but they cover the whole
range from fincancial aspects, to recommendation letters, to
to whether one should join a mathematical society etc.
A smaller part of the book is even dedicated to mathematics.
It tells first introductorywise then with listings what one
needs to know for the qualifying exams. Overall the book is
really informative and easy too read, almost like a science
fiction. For the intended audience the book seems to be perfect
and for outsiders it's valuable for the insight, as well.
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on July 13, 2007
I'm a graduate student in computer science, working on my PhD. If you're looking for a sort of rulebook that contains all the meta-knowledge one needs to know to survive in the scientific game, this is it.
The book includes helpful information to questions you probably wouldn't dare to ask anyone:
"How do i choose a thesis advisor?",
"What if I can't solve my thesis problem?",
"Am I in competition with the other graduate students?",
"What kind of money can I make as a professor?"
There's also lots of information about life after graduation, especially relevant for those of us who want to pursue an academic career.

The book is written in an easy to follow style, and gets straight to the point. You really feel that the author knows what he's talking about.
I highly recommend it to anyone planning a career in a science related to maths.
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on August 12, 2013
Many have written before me, closer to the day-to-day grind of graduate work. Being retired and holding a DSc in math, I enjoyed reading this book and was impressed with the depth of sound advice it offers to those students going on to higher learning or just having started. Highly recommend.
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on June 24, 2008
I graduated a couple years ago with BS in Mathematics and was trying to decide if I should return for my PhD. This book was extremely helpful. It presents a very thorough overview of the PhD process with helpful information regarding thesis advisors (both selecting and working with) and thesis preparation. Material is easy to read (conversational tone) and very specific. Definitely recommend this to anyone considering a graduate program in mathematics.

Also gives extensive information regarding the application of a PhD in academia- such as types of jobs (tenure track, post-doc fellow, etc.), types of colleges and the workload (and pay) to be expected at those colleges.

End of text is an overview of mathematics topics important to the post-bachelors, pre-grad student.

It does not spend time explaining all the different areas of mathematics, so that part you'll need to figure out for yourself. Reading this book will get you excited to talk to your professors about a doctorate program. Good luck!
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on January 9, 2007
I gave this to my son who is a high school junior planning to major in mathematics in college. He thought it was great because it looks beyond just getting into college and taking a bunch of math classes. What does a math major do next? Do you have to teach? What do professors and TA's really do? What does it take to get into grad school and is it worth it? I would recommend this book to anyone contemplating any type of career involving higher level mathematics.
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on May 10, 2011
"Survival Guide" might be a misnomer, because this is less a book of advice and more a description of what the next several years of your life will be like if you choose to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics. For me, this made the book far more valuable than the "tricks and tips" type book I was expecting. I feel like I actually know what lies ahead for me in much greater detail now than I did with the Career Services basic synopsis. That I want to play with numbers for the rest of my life was never in doubt, but it's good to have a less murky picture of the process now. Of course, I won't fully know how accurate the book's description is for a few years, so we'll see.
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on April 20, 2014
Read: 4/14
Rate: 5/5

4/14: Well, the author tells it like how it is in A Mathematician's Survival Guide. I must say, there is a good deal of hubris in the book that is a big turnoff to me although it is not intended. It's just that the whole deal about elitism is what bothers me the most. Although math professors have earned their stripes because of their intelligence and hard work to get to the point of where they are, I am really disappointed in them because college students nowadays shell out tens of thousand dollars only to get uncaring, dispassionate "teachers." They are simply walking oral books that are played ad verbatim in classrooms. That's why the passages in the book about how teaching is highly valued in the academia are a real laugh for me; never I in my life met any of Ph.D. mathematicians that resemble the model of it. Morris Kline's Why the professor can't teach: Mathematics and the dilemma of university education paints a perfect picture of it. Above them all, who cares about their research? Nearly none of them presently holds any value, and only a half dozen in the world can only understand the specialization of varying mathematical areas. It's the very definition of the ivory tower. Being widely published and being held at high esteem by fellow peers are all wonderful and marvelous, but let's be real: who cares? The most important thing out of A Mathematician's Survival Guide for me is that I really learned a lot about how the Ph.D. process works, and it has given me a very clear idea whether or not I want to pursue it. I want to say something else in this matter:

It's discouraging when schools place so much emphasis on high stakes testing of math content knowledge. So much information to cram, and absolute perfection is required in every step of the way within the most limited time as possible. Simple mistakes derail the whole solution and result in an immense loss of points, thus a significant lowered overall test grade. Mathematics is truly the survival of the perfectionist.

I am the kind of a mathematician that actually enjoys learning math for the sake of it, and I wholeheartedly pursue it for fun. I am rather sick of mathematics being used as a measuring stick to determine one's worthiness. All in all, A Mathematician's Survival Guide gets the point across, and I'll leave it at that.
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on November 8, 2003
He's a great story teller as well as a great mathemtics professor! His style is so charming that I can't stop reading the book. This book is very useful for those who aspire for a career in mathematics. It tells almost everything that you need to know. It's extremely hard to become a mathematician and a mathematics professor, but this book helps making the process smoother. Read it for fun and enjoy it!
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on September 11, 2006
This book discussed all the relevant details involved in a career as an academic mathematician, and it was a very interesting read with Krantz's humor.
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on November 5, 2006
This is a great book with lots of important information on what it's like to be in academia. I recommend it highly for all graduate students as well as for their advisors.
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