When does one consider themselves a mathematician?
Is it once you’ve stuck that major to your educational goals? Do you have to earn a degree in it? Or earn a certain degree? Do only Ph.D’s in research have that title? Is there a secret committee that will come to my door one day and say, “We had a meeting, and we decided we want you in our club. You’re bringing snacks next week. Julio is allergic to nuts, so no nuts.”?
One. Of. Us. One. Of. Us.
In the spirit of lazy undergraduate answer seeking I Googled “mathematician”.
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.
What are the parameters of:
Extensive? To the normal person when I say I got straight A’s through the Calculus cycle they think I am a math genius. To my classmates they give me the side eye and we have that soul bond in the thought that those were the days as now we’re lucky if our grading is curved to fix that 50% we got on the midterm. To my former bio major friends they hear me talk about my classes and are like, “There is a world beyond lower-div linear algebra and differential equations?!?! What math is this?!” Oh you sweet children. But then I talk to my friends in grad school math and they are like, “yeah, real analysis was required. I’m taking such and such for fun.” Is extensive when you’re taking math for fun? Cuz honestly, I’m taking topology for fun this quarter. It technically fulfills a requirement at the moment, but that would have been fulfilled with my mandatory choosing of Abstract Linear Algebra later on. I guess “extensive” is subjective. But mathematicians shouldn’t leave room for subjectivity. I need to know. My Google search also says, that the entry requirement is a master’s degree. (Are these requirements posted somewhere? Are there any other requirements? Certain GPA? Blood type? Should I have retail experience?) But what about those undergrads with rad research experience? I would consider them mathematicians.
Using math in your work? I mean, my mom used to tell me school is my job and I was required to do math in school. Is homework considered math work? I mean it has work in the title. I certainly feel like I mathematician at my paying job when someone asks me to add simple numbers and I declare, “Hold on, let me get my calculator!” I am at a point without any general-ed requirements that I am taking full terms of math and my non-math advisors always question me, “Are you sure you want to take 12 units of math?” I mean no, I am not sure of this, to be honest. But isn’t this the point of being a math major? I work at math but am I using it? Wouldn’t only applied math types, actuaries, and weirdos like that actually be using it? (Yes, I threw major shade at applied math. Only because I wish I could be in applied math.)
Typically? So the non-typical mathematicians use math to solve non-math problems? Would that make these problems by association…math problems? Is this more of a philosophy question? What are these problems? I like being in the minority, this might interest me. I feel like any world problem that we can apply math to is, in fact, a math problem. Math is life. Blood in, blood out.
I don’t know when I will officially become a mathematician. But when I do, I expect someone to present me with a sash and scepter.