korobeiniki wrote:Research for sure is helpful, but unless you're in the running for the Morgan prize I would guess that what you will personally gain from it plus possible rec letters from your research supervisors is more important than the actual research.
This applicant doesn't have graduate coursework in mathematics, so research does matter (for applied math programs--he/she seems better suited for a stats type program). The places that I got accepted to say that the ability to do research while still maintaining grades in intense grad courses is their biggest concern during admission. You need to show you can handle that in your application--what better way than to actually do research.
Recs do matter. But applied math departments will want to see recommendations from people in the math/cs/physics department from your school. Strong Recs are usually from people who can say more than the generic 'so and so was a great student in class'. So yes, when I recommended doing research I didn't mean the research itself will matter. It's the process and the connections you build that matter. And not many applied math departments have enough connections in finance (unless they have strong computational finance program) to actually care a ton about a rec from a hedge fund.
You mention a person who got in with no research experience-- was this to an applied math program? Having talked to many professors and grad students, research matters more than grades for applied math programs.