1.20.2006

TIP: Be there as the world enters a new age of numbers

via BusinessWeek - ...Partnerships between mathematicians and computer scientists are bulling into whole new domains of business and imposing the efficiencies of math. This has happened before. In past decades, the marriage of higher math and computer modeling transformed science and engineering. Quants turned finance upside down a generation ago. And data miners plucked useful nuggets from vast consumer and business databases. But just look at where the mathematicians are now. They're helping to map out advertising campaigns, they're changing the nature of research in newsrooms and in biology labs, and they're enabling marketers to forge new one-on-one relationships with customers. As this occurs, more of the economy falls into the realm of numbers. Says James R. Schatz, chief of the mathematics research group at the National Security Agency: "There has never been a better time to be a mathematician."...

The rise of mathematics is heating up the job market for luminary quants, especially at the Internet powerhouses where new math grads land with six-figure salaries and rich stock deals. Tom Leighton, an entrepreneur and applied math professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says: "All of my students have standing offers at Yahoo! (YHOO ) and Google (GOOG )." Top mathematicians are becoming a new global elite. It's a force of barely 5,000, by some guesstimates, but every bit as powerful as the armies of Harvard University MBAs who shook up corner suites a generation ago...

Just as mathematicians need to grapple with human quirks and mysteries, managers and entrepreneurs must bone up on mathematics. Midcareer managers can delegate much of this work to their staffers. But they still must understand enough about math to question the assumptions behind the numbers. "Now it's easier for people to bamboozle someone by having analysis based on lots of data and graphs," says Paul C. Pfleiderer, a finance professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. "We have to train people in business to spot a bogus argument."

And to spot opportunities. As more of the world's information is pooled into mathematics, the realm of numbers becomes an ever larger meeting ground. It's a percolating laboratory full of surprising connections, and a birthplace for new industries. Yes, it's a magnificent time to know math.

Category: C++ Quant > Land the Job You Want

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