Statements of Purpose and other Graduate App Miscelany

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.

How Important is the Ranking of a Math Grad School in your decision to apply?

Very Important
3
23%
Moderately Important
2
15%
Mildly Important
3
23%
Not at all Important
0
No votes
I am more concerned about location
3
23%
I am more concerned about academic concentration
2
15%
 
Total votes: 13

zombie
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:30 am

Statements of Purpose and other Graduate App Miscelany

Postby zombie » Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:45 am

I almost feel like the topic of actually applying to graduate schools is underrepresented in this forum. I mean, why do we take this bloody test anyways?? Plus, I'm constantly bothered these days that my "numbers" won't cut the mustard anywhere even though I have this feeling that I will "kick it up a notch or two" in October.

I've been thinking about my statements of purpose letters and I have yet to actually start any of them, although, I need to do so soon.
I plan to apply at 6-10 schools with hopefully a better GRE General and Subject than what I'm at now. No excuses there, I will just do better the third (I took the GRE General first in 2002) and second times around respectively. I ended up with a 620 (46%) in the fall (30 Correct 14 Wrong 44 Answered) which is about what I did on the LeDuc (Cracking the GRE...) Practice Test (33 Right 9 Wrong). I'm taking it again in October, and hopefully not in November.

To make sure I really review everything, I've been typing my undergraduate notes using TeXnicCenter software package. It's really been beneficial (dare I say even quite fun) to review all my notes and learn the (La)TeX language. And, I'm working problems from all the various textbooks I've accumulated, not just from the stupid GRE books which impart a lot of tricks but are very limiting (no pun intended) in terms of the core undergraduate mathematics curriculum.

My overall undergrad GPA is good 3.77 but it's padded with a lot of Poli Sci classes and my Math GPA is 3.5 which is mostly adequate for the types of programs I'm applying. I have intangible connections in academia which are tough to describe (the political science program I was in has an odd reputation...), but could be beneficial or harmful depending on the program. Let's just say, there is a non-zero probability I may be one of those a**holes who is a benefactor of political pull or there is a non-zero probability I could be a victim of a political smear campaign (and for those of you who do not believe that politics is a factor, good luck in graduate school, I hope a relative of yours is on your committee). Thoughts? Are people applying to the graduate schools attended by their undergraduate professors? I'm applying to one, maybe two.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to bring this up: there are some Comp Sci people taking the maths test. I hear that FORTRAN is being somewhat phased out these days which is wonderful to hear since I have 4 semesters of C/C++ under my belt and I'm learning the MFC now. I know Matlab uses a C++ shell, although I haven't really done anything with program yet. I'm interested in differential equations, so I may need to learn how to use Matlab to solve differential equations using numerical techniques. I usually use Mathematica though and I just got 7.0 which blows 5.0 out of the water. Absolutely incredible. Haven't really used Maple.

Anyway, I've been at the local community college learning more and more about the applications of the C++ language. I plan to take C# in the fall and I might take Java or a class in UNIX also. Any thoughts on what are the most commonly used/needed computer languages for Mathematicians to know?

Hmm, anything else? Oh yeah, I was wondering and maybe others will have a better idea than myself about this. How encouraging are programs to their students to take courses in other disciplines? I hope to be accepted into a Mathematics program where I can potentially take 2 or 3 courses in graduate level Physics.
Duke's program has a well-defined Mathematical Physics Track, as does North Carolina State.

Anyways, I hope others want to share their thoughts about these topics. I graduated with my Bachelors in Mathematics last May, so it's been over a year since I've been in an environment where people discussed Mathematics on a daily basis, and I feel quite separated from the mathematics community these days... So, I think that's why I wrote all of this. Well, share your thoughts if you're so inclined.

User avatar
diogenes
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:31 pm

Re: Statements of Purpose and other Graduate App Miscelany

Postby diogenes » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:16 pm

Given your stated interests, I think you would be a good for fit for computational mathematics programs (you mentioned you like physics, but you seem to be able to stomach a lot of programming).



Also, what was your prep like for the exam?

More to follow...

zombie
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:30 am

Re: Statements of Purpose and other Graduate App Miscelany

Postby zombie » Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:05 pm

I do enjoy programming. I've been reading a bit about Quantum Computing and I recently read that Univ. California Santa Barbara has a Topological Quantum Computing project sponsored by our good friends (those satanists) at Microsoft.

http://stationq.ucsb.edu/index.html

The researchers at U of I have also developed zen-like ways to process data and deduce predictions using quantum computers.

http://news.illinois.edu/news/06/0222quantum.html

Although, quantum computing and the use of computers to numerically approximate solutions (say in nonlinear differential equations or classical mechanics problems with n > 2 bodies) is vastly different.

Also, I've been wondering what types of graphics design went into the models used in the "Elegant Universe" series on PBS. Anyone know??


As for this test, I really could've bombed it the first go around. I graduated with my BS in mathematics May '08. I really bombed the MFT (the Major Field Test) which is another fine ETS product in May 08, but it had no bearing on my degree. I also got had a horrible flu for a few months that landed me in the hospital twice. I finally started studying for the GRE Maths last November by reading the LeDuc book in about 2 months cover to cover. Then I took all of the practice tests.

I looked over my real and complex analysis notes and I re-read an introductory book on topology I had been reading.

Someone on this message board said that reading LeDuc alone is worth about a 600 and I couldn't agree more. It was a good review, especially in Calculus since I was about 10 years removed from my first Calculus course in high school; however, I think I will look elsewhere for a thorough explanation of Measure Theory.

Since then, I've started to read a variety of textbooks and I've been working problems in my weak areas. I think I can kick my score up to the 70% range if I get some breaks this time around.

I just plan to just keep working on the little this and that I should know for graduate school and hope that stuff like that appears on the GRE.

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diogenes
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:31 pm

Re: Statements of Purpose and other Graduate App Miscelany

Postby diogenes » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:21 pm

Interesting reply.
If you can stomach the thought of moving across the pond, then Oxford had some people (was?) doing research in the area of quantum computation.

FWIW: I am a bit rusty, graduated a few years ago, but do use some basic calculus and measure theory on a day to day basis.

Edit: Actually, I think the ability to place graduates in tenure-track/strong post-doc positions is my number one interest at the moment.




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