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A Mathematician's Survival Guide: Graduate School and Early Career Development

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0821834558
ISBN-10: 082183455X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Very valuable for the prospective student ... definitely good advice ... definitely recommend to every mathematics department to keep a copy of this book for their undergraduate and graduate students." ---- MAA Online
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: American Mathematical Society (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082183455X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821834558
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"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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Format: Paperback
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.
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