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Mathematics Skills More in Demand Than Ever

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-just-watch-numb3rs dept.

Math 590

knownsense writes "Business week has a nice article (feel good, low on detail, vague numbers) on the rise of maths and mathematicians in a world that is increasingly obsessed with statistics, advertising, search engines, and algorithms. The article also deals with issues of privacy. How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?"

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FIRST POST EAT SHIT (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462681)

FIRST POST EAT SHIT

Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (5, Interesting)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462682)

We all know that advancements in technology can cost people their jobs. However, in the case of the building industry in Texas, the effect of introducing new technology can often be somewhat delayed.

Back in 1997, my new house was in the slow process of changing from plans on paper into bricks on concrete. One of the tasks that has to be done early on is to lay out the shape of the house accurately onto the land. My builder uses a sub-contractor to do that - and I had occasion to watch him work. He arrived in a beat up old pickup truck with four 'migrant workers' sitting in the back. In order to lay out the initial 'bounding rectangle' of the building, they follow this algorithm:

* Measure a baseline for the long edge of the rectangle. Mark it with two stakes hammered into the ground and tie a length of nylon string between them.

* Tie a second piece of string to one of the stakes and measure out the width of the rectangle along it. Eyeball the angle between the new edge and the baseline so it's roughly 90 degrees and you have an 'L' shape. One guy holds the string there.

* Do the same at the other end of the baseline. Now you have a 'U' shape and two guys are holding the open ends of the strings.

* Take a third piece of string - equal in length to the length of the rectangle. Give one end to each of the two guys who are already holding string. 'jiggle' them until all three strings are tight. You now have a parallelogram made of string, staked out at two corners.

* Now take two long tape measures and with one guy standing at each corner of our parallelogram, position the tape measures along the two diagonals of the parallelogram. With two guys holding the tapes on the baseline stakes and the other two holding onto the strings and shouting out the lengths of the diagonals, they jiggle the two free points until all of the strings are tight and the two diagonals tape measures are reading the same lengths. This requires a lot of shouting, cursing and everyone telling everyone else which way to move.

* Now they have a rectangle - so they bash in two more stakes and then level the whole thing with a really impressive-looking laser contraption.

Well, I watched this with some amusement - and asked why they didn't just calculate the length of the diagonal. The boss guy said that you couldn't do that - "It's impossible". I told him about Pythagoras' theorem. With the aid of a calculator (he didn't know what that funny 'square-root' key was for), I was able to show him how easy it is to calculate the length of the diagonal and do away with all the ugly 'jiggling'.

"Wow!" he said. Then he thought for a moment - "Now I'll only need three guys to hold the string!"...and fired one of them on the spot! I thought he was kidding - but the next day when they were measuring out the place for the garage, there was one less guy holding the string.

So, a 2,500 year old technological advance cost some poor guy his job. ...sigh...

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (3, Funny)

Wholeflaffer (64423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462770)

That makes one less migrant tech worker visa that's needed.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462831)

fucking jews

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463018)

Texas migrant workers are typically picked up on the side of the street a few blocks away from a Mexican job center.

A calculator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462774)

Don't they have 3,4,5 triangles where you live?

Re:A calculator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462959)

that only works with metric units

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (4, Insightful)

Peden (753161) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462783)

While it was true it cost someone his job, it also effectively lowered the price of the subcontractors operations, which in turn, will make it cheaper for you. When will people understand that in the long run better technology is a win-win, no matter how you look at it. Yes widespread RFID will cost alot of people their jobs at supermarkets when people can just go through the exit and the price is deducted automatically from the account. These people, althought sad and with no job at first, will find other jobs and society will be better off in general.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (4, Insightful)

Dielectric (266217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462878)

I used to think like that, too. Not so much anymore. Try "Player Piano" by Kurt Vonnegut.

There's always going to be a bottom rung of people who really can't do much more than run a cash register. What happens to them?

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (4, Interesting)

pogson (856666) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463004)

The trailing edge of the bell curve can be accommodated by the small operations that are so small, staff cannot be cut further, the night shift, the undesirable post, and the dole/welfare/prison/social assistance.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463091)

Am I the only one that likes checking out at the market?! How else do you get local news? Ohh and I will stand in line an extra 20min if that cute girl with the funny bangs, and baggy shirt (shows cleavage when she bends over) is bagging. I guess I am the exception though, I don't "drive through" I always sit down to eat.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462795)

I haven't laughed this well in days lol

The other workers should be happy he didn't realize he could do it all by himself if he wanted to :) (and probably faster too)

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (2, Informative)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462814)

There's actually a framing calculator that has a much more useful square root function on it. It will return values that aren't decimal so it's easier to to use with a tape measure.

If you think that was bad, you should look at how most framers put up rafters. My dad could do all those measurements in his head. On one house we did, my dad actually had me use the blue book (the one you get when you buy a speed sqaure) and the framing calculator to figure up the roof system. We still finished that house faster and better than the guys down the street who put a "pilot rafter" up to mark it by eye and monkeyed with it until it worked out. Most framers just spend an inordinate amount of time fiddling with the book and making prototype rafters until they are sure they will work.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (3, Funny)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462822)

If Pythagoras can get one guy fired, imagine what Goldman's Polytope is going to do!

/changes professions

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462857)


So, a 2,500 year old technological advance cost some poor guy his job. ...sigh...

That's one way to look at it. There's no denying that technology replaces some low level jobs. But on the other end the boss guy now has more money to spend on something else. He might pocket the money, or he might fire another guy and use the combined money to hire a more skilled helper. Then take on jobs that require more skill than simply staking out building sites.

If technology simply eliminated jobs without creating new ones, we'd all have been out of work a few thousand years ago.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (5, Interesting)

Funakoshi (925826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462861)

While I appreciate the story, I think your sub-contractor was pretty brutal, at the very least he should have had a theodolite (construction instrument) to turn his 90 degree angles for him. I sell construction equipment and there is no doubt that it is difficult to "teach an old dog new tricks", the technology available to those companies is mind boggling, but equally as amazing is the fact that they dont search it out to improve their effeciency.

For example, the layout contractors I speak to (should) use instruments that allow them to layout their forms with not only no string, but also no paper. Plans are transfered to ruggedized PDAs, attached to instruments that calculate locations based on distance and angles from given landmarks, and stakes are pounded. They can increase productivity by 30% with very little effort at all. Some land suveyors are doing layout with GPS systems with sub-centimeter accuracy and are seeing 50-70% increases in productivity.

I dont mean to flame the parent, he/she is correct, the users in that industry dont use enough technology, but it is available to them.

PS: I think, no matter how much frickin money they make, they ALL drive beat up pickups

Laying Tile (2, Interesting)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462926)

The 3-4-5 rule for getting the grout lines square to the reference wall. Measure 3' along the outside wall, mark a small line 4' perpendicalur to that line, then from the end of the 3' measure 5' until it intersects with the 4' mark. Now you have a right angle for laying out you tile.

It's funny, but I've used more math (especially geometry) doing home improvement projects than I ever did programming computers. Granted, I've never did any intense graphics programming, but a little bit of UI type of stuff.

Re:Ancient Greek Technology Costs Jobs. (1)

pogson (856666) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462936)

Wait until the boss learns about the carpenter's square or the theodolite... One or two people could do the job. With a prism that deflects a laser beam 90 degrees, one person could do the job. Using the strings as a compass, one person could "construct" 90 degree corners and do the job. With centre A on baseline PQ and radius R, draw an arc intersecting baseline PQ at x and y. With centre x and suitable radius draw an arc encompassing A. With centre y and same radius, draw an arc encompassing A and intersecting the arc centred on x at t and u. TU will contain A and will be perpendicular to the original baseline. Repeat as necessary.

The Pure Profession (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462694)

How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?
Wow, a better question would be, "What part of my life hasn't been impacted by math?"

I've always liked math. And, in the past decade, there has been much evidence pointing toward math being a primary component in a better lifestyle. It didn't fully hit me until I was a freshman in college and my computer science courses started crossing paths with my linear algebra courses.

But even in grade school, there was evidence that those in control of mathematics sat a bit higher on the food chain. For instance, I got into an argument with my dad (an independent concrete pourer) when I was in eighth grade. He wanted to build a base for a grain silo and needed to know how many cubic yards of cement was needed. So he was having a hard time computing this. I told him it was (as we all know) pi*radius^2. After much debate, I gave him a piece of graph paper and a compass and told him to draw it and estimate the number of squares. I don't look down on my dad, he just never had an education like I was privileged to have.

And so I slowly started to realize that mathematics were the underlying principle to everything. Maybe you've seen the motion picture Pi and remember the part where the main character has a revelation that everything can be described by math. In my opinion, he was dead right.

The key to math is that the application of it is far more useful than the raw theory of it. That's why the actual profession of mathematician is rarely sought after, instead, the ideal situation is one who has a firm background in math due to classes or a minor.

After taking a statistics course, I realized that math helps us predict the future based on prior events. What is more useful to a human being than to be able to predict what is going to happen? As H.G. Wells might tell you, not much.

This article was well written as it pointed out the good and bad aspects of the power of mathematics. The funny thing about math is that it's neither good nor evil until it's applied.

Re:The Pure Profession (3, Interesting)

Keck (7446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462766)

And so I slowly started to realize that mathematics were the underlying principle to everything. Maybe you've seen the motion picture Pi and remember the part where the main character has a revelation that everything can be described by math. In my opinion, he was dead right.

I'm a math/sci geek too (do you have to SAY that on /.?) but I want to point out that we are well served to be aware of the limitations of math and logic. Some people put as much faith in logic and our own mathematical knowlege as any fundamentalist zealot puts in their own religion. Reasonable people (and the smartest mathematicians and scientists I've ever seen) realize that math and even logic are human's own inventions, and are limited in what they can be applied to. That said, they are a hugely useful system of describing the natural world and even abstract ideas in a very communicable way -- we've often heard and said that Math is the true international language. Yet, there are statements in math that we know we can neither prove nor disprove -- and conversely, there are things we know to be true (by experience, which Einstein referred to as the ultimate truth) but we know for sure can't be proven!

Google for "Gödel's theorem", or maybe "metamathematics" before knee-jerk replying, please.

Re:The Pure Profession (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462802)

I'm well aware of the Incompleteness Theorem and most of Kurt Gödel's work.

This wasn't a knee-jerk reaction, this is something I've thought quite a bit about. I'll stand by mathematics before I'll stand by any other -ism in the world. Yes, mathematics has holes. The great thing is that the community recognizes they're there and they are constantly striving to examine them. Not fix them or make them go away but understand them better.

Re:The Pure Profession (1)

Keck (7446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462856)

I didn't necessarily mean you personally, just 'readers in general' .. But at any rate, my point was you should no more stand by Math and Logic as an -ism than anything else! I'm perfectly comfortable not tying myself unto death to anyone claiming to know The Real Ultimate Truth (tm). The longer I go on, the more I think that the only "universal truth" is that there is NO "universal truth".

Also, by knee-jerk reaction I was more anticipating other's super-rational zealotry responses, not referring to your initial post. I quite agree with the initial post, as I've had the same kind of experience in my own life.

Re:The Pure Profession (3, Informative)

RalphLeon (856789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462843)

there are statements in math that we know we can neither prove nor disprove

There called Axioms, and they are needed in all formal logic. If you really don't understand this concept visit:

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Axiom.html [wolfram.com]

Re:The Pure Profession (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462997)

Google the halting problem, moron.

Re:The Pure Profession (1)

RalphLeon (856789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463049)

I don't need to google it, already learned it. I was giving some background for everyone else.

I know about the theorem. (1)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462917)

It has deeper implications than "just math". I don't know how far you've gone with computer algorithms, but I attended a wonderful talk given at my University [usask.ca] by a gentleman who has been related the logic behind that statement to other things.

It has very deep implications on what can and can't be proven or computed within the lifetime of the Universe, not "just" math axioms. It's not that math is limited, it's that information theory is complex. You imply that math is a creation like a telephone (" realize that math and even logic are human's own inventions, and are limited in what they can be applied to.") when, in fact, we are merely describing underlying features of the Universe.

Go learn about NP vs. P and other parts of algorithm theory, then talk to me.

Re:The Pure Profession (2, Informative)

period3 (94751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462962)

Reasonable people (and the smartest mathematicians and scientists I've ever seen) realize that math and even logic are human's own inventions


...and there are other reasonable people who believe that math is a universal truth discovered by humans, not "invented" by them.

Re:The Pure Profession (2, Interesting)

RalphLeon (856789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462777)

You know it always amazes me that when anyone talks about math they start talking statistics and calculations. This is not pure mathematics. Statistics is its own breed and calculations are for the engineers, pure mathematics is about abstractions of formal logic.

Now if we wanted to start talking about ring theory, field theory, galois theory, real analysis, topology, etc. these are examples of the pure mathematical concepts. Not number crunching. All of these other things like "statistics" and "applied math" are great things but I feel that they are certainly not pure.

Re:The Pure Profession (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462889)

Wow, a better question would be, "What part of my life hasn't been impacted by math?"

One would guess your sex life, but then again this is /.

Re:The Pure Profession (1)

What'sInAName (115383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462971)

Well, in my case at least, math definitely impacted my sex life, for the better!

See, I got my PhD in math, and while I was in grad school, I met my future wife. Had I not decided to pursue my degree, I never would have even been in the same city to meet her. (She's a (bio)stats geek, so being in a related field gave us something to break the ice with).

(I know, I know, leave it to a math geek to take a joke too seriously...)

Re:The Pure Profession (0)

ryder (111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463098)

I knew I'd see you posting on this article :P

When you go to Brown Sugar today, eat some for me! :)

Re:The Pure Profession (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462915)

The key to math is that the application of it is far more useful than the raw theory of it.

This is a common misconception. If you know pure mathematics, you can (and often will) become proficient in many of the apllications of you area of study; but if all you have learned is some sort of applied maths, you'll find it difficult going the other way. When you work with an application of maths, you tend to think in 'formulas' and will have difficulty learning even other, related areas of applied maths, simply because you have to learn it from scratch.

Math vs Maths? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462702)

Were did the plural Maths come from? Its common in the UK, Aus and NZ.

Re:Math vs Maths? (1)

AkA lexC (939709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462753)

I think its a contraction rather than just lopping the 'ematics' bit off.. it doesnt seem to follow into other subjects or we;d be learning chemy and geogy. If ur english, even saying math sounds rediculous, as im sure the S does to americans. i dont think either is more correct as they are just colloquial abbreviations

Re:Math vs Maths? (2, Insightful)

el_womble (779715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462813)

Because when you shorten a word you carry the plural, otherwise you change the meaning. The parallels between Maths and English in this particular situation are almost ironic.

Re:Math vs Maths? (1)

lju (944654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462893)

That's assuming the plural form of "Math" is "Maths", and not just more "Math." Having been born and raised in the US, seeing "Maths" seems odd to me, it's like seeing someone write about "the Internets."

Statically speaking... (0)

Elitist_Phoenix (808424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462710)

It helped me work out my chances of getting first post on Slashdot. Its very low. However to counter this obvious grief I do more maths, my spirts improve. I then realise with all the maths in my life and trying to get first post on slashdot, I won't get a girlfriend, my spirts drop off the charts.

English skills? (4, Funny)

tehshen (794722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462713)

"We'll have systems that tap our knowledge by the minute," [Pierre Haren] says. "Productivity could rise by a factor of 10."

That's nice, but which factor? 1 is a factor of 10 :)

Re:English skills? (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462798)

Regardless of how correct it is, I think we all know he meant that 10 will be the factor by which it will raise. Wow, my english skills are lacking too!

well lets just say (4, Funny)

scenestar (828656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462727)

How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?

It hasn't gotten me laid yet.

Re:well lets just say (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462881)

How has it impacted me in the last decade? Well, in the last 2 weeks it impacted me when I was at the checkout at a supermarket and my bill was $115 and I handed the cashier $120...only thing is there was a $50 in there and 3 $20s and a $10.

She spent a good minute trying to figure out how to count them...I kid you not! She even tried to get the bag guy to help. Finally I showed her how to count them out to show it was $120.

I didn't even know how to feel. A little shocked I suppose.

Re:well lets just say (2, Funny)

pjy (906736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462958)

The staff at /\/\cDonalds get confused when I ask for a dozen chicken nuggets. They only sell them in lots of 3,6 or 9.

Re:well lets just say (1)

jthayden (811997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463011)

Maybe they are trying to figure out the cheapest or most expensive way to ring them up? 4*3, 2*6, 1*9 + 1*3, 1*6 + 2*3? Which is it?

Re:well lets just say (2, Funny)

ezpei (461814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462950)

There are at least two ways math can get you laid.

1) If you're an applied math guy, you can use it to make enough money to attract the kind of women who like money
2) If you're a theoretical math guy, you can use it to make interesting small talk involving some loose homomorphism between something you know a lot about and one of the woman's interests, assuming she's smart enough to follow what you're saying

Option (2) works particularly well with hippie chicks, artists, and architects. Fortunately, my wife is and/or was all three of those things ;)

Be pushed around (4, Interesting)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462730)

They always advertise it as a field, and sure it's interesting, but as a job, to be a mathematician you're typically in a position where you are a tool for the non-mathematician's. Of course the non-math's want more math's to do the work for them and tell them what to do... but is it a good carreer?

Re:Be pushed around (2, Interesting)

systmoadownfreak (943687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462866)

Honestly I do think that it would be a good career. I know that while I've always been more oriented toward the social studies/english aspect of school, the maths/sciences are something that hold great importance to advancing our technology as a whole. This is one of the main reasons that Japan has excelled in recent years. Their educational system is very effective in teaching the subjects related to math. In the US however, it seems that we go for every new educational fad that comes out. We spend so many of our resources on trying to promote the new political agendas to students that a lot of the focus is lost.

On the subject of mathmeticians always being told what to do by other people, well a lot of careers are like that. Doctors and lawyers both have to do as their clients want. Mathmaticians are a large part of ensuring accurate information without forcing other resources to be used on performing such calculations.

The way that I see it, I don't think that it would be such a bad job to have. Nor do I just think that it's a job where all you do is other people's dirty work.

Re:Be pushed around (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463037)

Doctors and lawyers both have to do as their clients want.

Doctors and lawyers are not subject to wage deflation because they have little competition globally. Mathematicians, chemists, engineers, computer scientists can perform there jobs anywhere, which means outsourcing and a narrowing of the wage gap between the West and the rest of the world.

Re:Be pushed around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462884)

Maybe the best thing is to go into a purely technical/scientific job knowing you're going to be a tool other people use to get rich. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can bury yourself in your work and end up just as rich as the business-heads, even if you're the best in the world at what you do and make the company [mb]illions of dollars. Sure, you might get lucky and work with some business-oriented people that value and compensate your work appropriately, but I wouldn't count on it.

If you're not going to learn and participate (a lot) in the business games, you're probably not going to make as much off your own labor as other people will. So just accept all that up front and maybe it will cut down on the stress. :)

Re:Be pushed around (1)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462939)

Good point. Personally it's not so much the top of management that annoys me, although their compensations are often outrageous. The perils of middle-management however...

Re:Be pushed around (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462934)

They always advertise it as a field, and sure it's interesting, but as a job, to be a mathematician you're typically in a position where you are a tool for the non-mathematician's. Of course the non-math's want more math's to do the work for them and tell them what to do... but is it a good carreer?

You'll probably want to choose a sane minor or two, say CS and physics. Get a job in a company that does physics-y stuff, start learning more and more about their business, and pretty soon you'll have the best of both worlds - you'll know the field and have more of a mathematical background than your coworkers.

The main impact on me (4, Funny)

Snamh Da Ean (916391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462736)

How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?

It made me go made hairline recede like crazy as I studied calculus in school and at college.

Computational Linguistics (4, Interesting)

Vann_v2 (213760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462737)

The technique in this article is actually used, too, and can be used on different levels. That is, the BW article says this company uses it to measure the distance between two articles, but you can use it to compare the distance between two words. Here's how.

Let's say you have some corpus with N distinct words in it. For each word w you create a "context vector" vw of length 2N. In the first N positions there are counts for the number of time each word in the corpus appears immediately to the left of the word w, and for the second N positions there are counts of the same for the right context. The angle between any two vectors in this 2N-dimensional vector space produces a measure of the distance between the two words. If you use some kind of dimensionality reduction technique to get a 2-dimensional representation, you can see that although this technique is pretty crude linguistically speaking it does pretty well. Each language has a distinct "shape" in this regard, with similar words grouped together, i.e., in English there might be a cluster of points consisting of "singular nouns," or specific parts of speech, like prepositions. It can sometimes even group words by semantic domain, depending on your corpus.

Remember kids, computational linguistics is fun!

Re:Computational Linguistics (2, Interesting)

19061969 (939279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462828)

Are you discussing latent semantic analysis [colorado.edu] by any chance? ;^)

It performs well in certain areas (for example, completing certain MCQ's to the same level as humans), automatic essay marking (but read the Powers et al [ets.org] study for more), and other things. It's surprising how well it does despite there being a complete absence of grounding (grounding in artificial intelligence terms).

Re:Computational Linguistics (2, Interesting)

gol (635335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462829)

already been done, many years ago
this guy presents nothing new. there are a host of such vector-space techniques, such as Latent Sematnic Analaysis, which all depend on this crucial reduction of dimensions to collapse similar vectors in such a way that they move closer to each other. article here [wikipedia.org]. Not a great article to be honest, but I can't be bothered to edit it.

Re:Computational Linguistics (1)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463021)

"Latent Sematnic Analaysis"
How clever of you to have worked out how to foil these evil Big Brother-type mathematical techniques.

Re:Computational Linguistics (1)

gol (635335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463054)

doh! spelling mistake! ;-)
you're absolutely right, spelling mistakes do throw techniques such as this off a little

How much more? (4, Funny)

republican gourd (879711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462739)

Article is missing the most important part....

is it 2x more? 3x more? Maybe 5(log n)x^2 more? sin(cos(log (pi) * -1/2)) + e? More importantly, how much has the standard deviation moved from previous years to this one?

Statistics are essential (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462746)

My outlook on the everyday world (especially marketing and the media) has changed immensely since I started getting Stats lectures in my second year at Uni. H. G. Wells was right:

Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read or write


It's just unfortunate that so few people do have an understanding of statistics. I've lost count of the newspaper stories, even years-long media-fuelled "controversies"-, which are based entirely on misunderstood, misrepresented, or malformed statistics. "How to Lie with Statistics" should be required reading in high school.

Negroid mathematicians and the jewish connection (-1, Troll)

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But.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462760)

A rise in Maths and Mathematicians? It just doesn't add up!

Another application for math (5, Funny)

jimand (517224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462778)

statistics, advertising, search engines, and algorithms.

and Texas Hold'em.

Re:Another application for math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463038)

Probably offtopic, but I don't understand why this particular type of poker (the Texas whatsis) is so popular. It's like 7-card stud except everybody's playing the same hand. That reduces the number of variables involved, I would think, making for a less complex game.

Am I missing something?

Is this news? (2, Insightful)

GenieGenieGenie (942725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462779)

...the rise of maths and mathematicians in a world that is increasingly obsessed with statistics, advertising, search engines, and algorithms

This is news only in the retarded world of business. I think we in the natural sciences have capished this quite a while ago.

From TFA:

This has happened before. In past decades, the marriage of higher math and computer modeling transformed science and engineering.

Excluded middle (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462794)

It may be just me, but it seems that lots of the traditional computer science curriculum has changed. I remember there being some calculus and statistics with calc requirements. Recently I looked at some school catalogs and was surprised to see that the math requirements for a computer science degree had changed substantially to the point that calc II or III was no longer needed. If the article is true then we're in for a real shortage of programmers who understand the mathematics.

At the same time I'm seeing mathematics positions than seemingly didn't exist before. The odd thing is that they were primarily math positions with some computer language requirements instead of the reverse. Instead of some actuarial positions, there are openings in software houses, animation studios, civil sector, etc..

Guess geeks will have their time in the spotlight again soon. Yay for me.

KLL

Re:Excluded middle (2, Interesting)

aetherspoon (72997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463032)

That tends to happen when CS gets taught by engineering departments rather than mathematics departments. Originally, all CS departments were an extension of the mathematics departments. Later on, most shifted towards engineering. Of those that shifted to engineering, the CS fields are taught more from an engineering point of view (design/build your code and produce the product) rather than a mathematics/science point of view (learn of the theories of your code, think about how to design some abstract concept instead of a final product). In the former point of view, mathematics ends up being skimmed over more than the latter.

Not to say that all engineering departments are like that - obviously there are quite a few exceptions. However, that's how it is - Engineering is applied mathematics after all. My CS degree consisted of probably just as much math as computers, if not more. Calc 1/2/3 and lots of mathematical electives.

(Disclaimer: I'm a CS/Math major)

Where? (2, Interesting)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463071)

>Instead of some actuarial positions, there are openings in software houses, animation studios, civil sector, etc..

i am a final year mathematics student whose dream isn't to work as an actuary or for a merchant bank. if anyone has advice on interesting fields where mathematicians are required rather than tolerated, i would appreciate it. or in general, advice on where to look.

i have studied almost exclusively pure maths, mainly analysis and number theory with some algebra and computational stuff, and can program C, some Fortran and some C++.

Re:Excluded middle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463079)

For two years now as a programmer I've not used any math more complicated than algebra, if that. Calc2 and 3 were fun to take, but not relevant at all to what i'm currently doing. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Sounds good now (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462809)

Imagine:

1. Having your TV programming automatically fed to your house based on your previous preferences
2. Having web sites sent to your browser based on predictive algorithms sitting at Google
3. Receiving even more targeted advertising sent to your mail box and telephone (during dinner)
4. Etc.

One of the (many) problems with predictive algorithms and maths is that it requires input as a training set to determine the output. The implication is that all of this targeted marketing will make it harder to find new and different things and experiences. I already get this crap with Amazon, which seems to regurgitate suggested reading titles for books I've already bought (many from Amazon).

Part of the spice of life is finding new things. The trend towards compartmentalization and specializationg driven by marketers and business interests will make life more boring.

That's EASY.. (2, Funny)

Young Master Ploppy (729877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462810)

"How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?"

Stopped me getting laid for most of it.

Next question...?

Re:That's EASY.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463002)

LMAO you sir posted the joke of the day

how numbers have helped me...! (1, Funny)

ladyKae (945309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462844)

How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?
Oooo well lets see, they've helped me;
  • tell the time
  • pay for stuff
  • catch a train
  • count calories
  • age
  • give the alcohol I've consumed a value

I could *erm* go on & on....

Fizix is good (1)

inphizzible_friend (942173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462850)

"How has mathematics, statistics and other number driven aspects of life impacted you in the last decade?"
With the full force of an electron accelerated to .9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999999 times the speed of light...

Perceptions of maths (2, Interesting)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462883)

It's true that mathematics is very much in demand, but unfortunately in the UK that hasn't translated into a greater interest in mathematics. I don't know how things are abroad, but here it's considered shameful to be illiterate, but almost embarrassing to be numerate.

I'm currently at uni studying maths, and a huge number of the people on my course are from overseas. Is it only the UK which seems to suffer from some sort of violent social allergy to mathematical competence?

Re:Perceptions of maths (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462940)

I grew up in rural North Carolina, where any knowledge beyond that needed to operate equipment in a hosiery mill was considered a waste of time by many. So apparently the UK isn't special in this regard. :)

Re:Perceptions of maths (2, Interesting)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463076)

I always find it odd that in intelligent UK middle-class society it is assumed people know some literature, geography, history, politics and classical music, all relatively complex areas, but even the simplest mathematical or technical ideas are unknown.

What math could have done for me. (1)

Funakoshi (925826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462886)

I would skip the Dual Major, Comp Sci/Business Admin undergrad & MBA combo I did and do an undergrad with a major in Math, minor in Finance, then a Masters in Financial Mathematics and be a broker right now, making millions (or at least hundreds of thousands). Thats what math could've done for me; I only wish someone had told me.

Why math is the greatest of all subjects (3, Interesting)

nandu_prahlad (706343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462890)

Math is truly the most awsome among all subjects. Learning it offers you the kind of freedom that is unmatched by learning any other subject. Have you noticed how a mathematician can switch easily between multiple areas of study? That's cuz one can apply math to almost every field imaginable from Language (Computational Linguistics) to Biology (Computational Biology). I don't mean to dismiss learning other subjects (it's important to be well rounded) but can any other subject gift you you with such amazing flexibility?

There's beauty and elegance in a mathematical result which will always remain true forever. School kids even today, study about the Pythogoras theorem - a mathematical result that was established more than 2 thousand years ago. You're learning Calculus that was discovered by Newton & Liebniz several hundred years ago. Compare this with other fields like Management where the MBA syllabus keeps changing as newer management techniques and new buzzwords/MBA jargon are invented.

Again, I don't mean to dis MBA dudes. It's just that in an fast paced information age where paradigms are constantly being challenged and new ones being invented, it is reassuring to have a body of knowledge that you can always depend on no matter what.

Seriously! You don't have to be good at math (I'm just a lowly Master's and that too in CS :)) to appreciate the beauty and elegance of this amazing subject.

Math is hurt in the USA by its negative image (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462892)

I can't imagine how many more kids would learn math and be good at it if it weren't for the whole "math is hard and dumb" attitude of the general public in the USA. I don't think kids go into math thinking it's all that hard, but teachers even tell them it is. When that kid goes home, his parents tell him it is. The media makes math "stupid" and even in cartoons, portrays people that are good at it as social outcasts. How is this helping us in any way? I think the best advance that Math could take is to achieve a positive image in society. If that happened, then its advancements in science could only increase faster.

Fantasy Sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462908)

i know that fantasy sports keep me doing a bit more math/stats than usual... not that these are very important uses and such, but i would say that since playing fantasy sports since 14 (25 now) it would qualify as an impact on my life...by getting used to stats at an early age you kinda just start playing with numbers more...i think its a good thing

Humans create, Computers execute (3, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462909)

Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you that mine are greater. - Albert Einstein

I have learned that you can do wonderful [google.com] and amazing [nasa.gov] things with machines and math, but machines themselves will never reproduce the creativity, insight, and wonder of the human mind.

Vague (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462921)

(feel good, low on detail, vague numbers) on the rise of maths and mathematicians


How ironic.

Math can be useful like for this FoxTrot cartoon! (2, Interesting)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462932)

View FoxTrot cartoon [ucomics.com] and figure out its Easter Egg. I suck at math, but at least I knew it was binary and had to decode it. You can view AQFL [aqfl.net] for the analysis and answer. :)

Re:Math can be useful like for this FoxTrot cartoo (2, Informative)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462995)

If you have a Python 2.4 interpreter handy:

>>>l = ['01011001', '01001111', '01010101', '01001110', '01000101', '01010010', '01000100']
>>>''.join([chr(int(i, 2)) for i in l])
'YOUNERD'

Making money as a freelancer mathematician (5, Interesting)

Lakedemon (761375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462954)

I would like to know if there is a way to make money out of maths skills, as a freelancer.

I mean, I have a phd and I'm quite good at maths, having solved the 3 problems who where thrown at me in 1 year and a half (instead of the regular 3 years) but what I would like to do is :
solve mathematical problems/bring solutions to people/firms in exchange for hard coin.
Kind like a mathematician freelancer/mercenary : You do the job, you get the money and that's it.

I mean, there are web sites for freelancer artists/web developer/coder. But there isn't one for mathematicians.

So, the only way to make money out of maths (in france) is either to teach it or to research in an university. Either way, you are a salary man.

Man, that sucks.
What is the use for those monsters maths skills, that I patiently honed all these years if I can't even make a little cash out of it/or make more money out of it that the average teacher (that really sucks at research/high lvl maths) ?

How has math affected me? (1)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463015)

I had to study a lot of calculus as part of my degree. Now I barely use it. And even then it's just the occasional exercise for fun, just to keep those skill sharp.

amused at fast food registers (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463041)

I am amused that the average US consumer cant do arithmetic worth sh*t. I see this while in line in grocery stores and fast food places. The clerk or scanner makes an error about one in ten or twenty times on average. Randomly the errors cluster sometimes exceeding a couple dollars per transaction. Neither the customer or clerk notices this.

Too late (4, Interesting)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463082)

When I tell a potential employer I know Galois theory, he stares at me for a few seconds, and then asks me "Do you know how to use Excel?". To which I reply that I prefer Mathemathica and rarely touch Microsoft products. Then the interview is over.

When I tell a girl I admire her Riemannesque topology and say her virtues are greater in number than those of the girls of Lesbos combined and raised to the googoolth power, she says: "Dude, you are such a sweetie, but I have to go now".

When I tell my neighbor he can make his wine cellar temperature independent by putting it y meters below the ground, he says "Well, aren't you a smarty, boy!", grins, and then returns home to put on the missis.
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