Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Year of Grad School

Currently Reading: “I Want to be a Mathematician” by Paul Halmos

I wish I had more time to update blogs, but I never seem to once I start one.  This is honestly the third one I’ve attempted to start and I figured a themed blog would make me more motivated, I guess not.  On the other hand Graduate School is incredibly time consuming.  I have also found it to be incredibly disheartening.  In some respects I think the main problem is that I’ve done the undergraduate degree far too quickly so it feels like there is a lot I don’t know.  Becoming good at math is more an experience oriented thing than a “natural skill” oriented thing.  I find that it doesn’t seem to matter how good you are at the subject, the length of time you spend doing it is what’s important.  Mathematics is a hugely time consuming subject and those that put the time into it have a major payoff.

I am just worried that I have done things so fast, that I will never be able to achieve the goals I want to achieve.  I don’t see myself doing very well in a general corporate environment.  The only schedule I think I could keep up with is being something like a research mathematician at a University.  I don’t think I even care if it’s a prestigious university… just a university in general would be nice.  But that job market is so utterly competitive that finding tenure track jobs might be out of reach for someone as mediocre as me.  University’s don’t care much about someone’s ability to teach the future generation, what matters is doing original research.  I am certainly not opposed to this since I think doing research would be quite exhilarating.

I feel that I could be up to the challenge.  I just hope I don’t get crushed under the weight of the academic machine that has been put into place for years.  I don’t always have the strongest grades compared to my peers, such as my friends Brendan and Eric, who I believe have far more ability than I.  However, I hold out hope that this will not hold me back for getting into other programs. As I’m reading “I want to be a Mathematician” by Halmos, I am given some comfort that he also did not have stellar grades in mathematics and also found Analysis quite challenging.  I worry my time-line is too fast for the system, but I am reminded of the story of Leibniz who only studied math for a mere five years before turning to original work.  However, Leibniz wasn’t obligated to have a thesis advisor, take a Math GRE, and things of that nature.

Matters have become more depressing, because I have also recently lost my job at the lab I worked at.  I am going to try and look at the bright side of this.  I am going to buckle down and try to solidify the math I’ve already learned at my professor’s recommendation.  My professor, who we affectionately call Kiwi at his insistence, has pointed out that I should know things more quickly than I do, and I really believe that is true.  Hopefully I will have the diligence to amass more skill with this newfound free time.

Also I am hoping to add much more to the blog.  I have recently finished a course on Partial Differential Equations and whenever I searched for useful examples on the web, it was impossible to find anything that had a lot of detail.  Many steps were frequently skipped or not even explained.  I want to spend some time writing up my own solutions and post them on here.  I am debating if I want to teach myself LaTeX in order to publish these or if I should write them up in Mathematica and then just convert the document to LaTeX as I learn that language.  At least in the latter case the brunt of the document writing will be finished… we’ll see.  A decision for next week maybe?