Why Math is sexy


A recent study by careercast.com says it all: The top five ranking jobs in 2011 involve numbers crunching:

#1 Software Engineer
#2 Mathematician
#3 Actuary
#4 Statistician
#5 Computer Systems Analyst

Apart from making a bunch of cash working at high tech companies like Google or Facebook or in the fianancial market or even starting their own businesses, these people are having fun while solving real world problems, working at cool environments at low stress and physical demands.

Hal Varian, professor of information sciences, business, and economics at the University of California at Berkeley, and Google’s chief economist says:

“I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s? The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.”

And he is not alone. DJ Patil, who ran big data projects for LinkedIn and now recruits mathematicians for a venture capital firm, goes on to say in this very nice article that “a good mathematician can figure out what matters and what doesn’t in a huge trove of data…Everybody’s looking for these people, because they know these individuals can move the needle by themselves. They’re that impactful”

Because mathematics is not everyone´s cup of tea, hot tech companies and start-ups have been investing precious time and resources to find talented people around the globe, that can sift through huge amounts of data with an analytical mindset to discover patterns that can be turned into knowledge.

Back to 2006, when I graduated in applied mathematics, there were already some companies relying in the extensive application of mathematical concepts as their main assets and the best example was Google.

Now, from better Facebook ads and LinkedIn matches to Amazon recommendations, automatic sentiment detection or bioinformatics discoveries, mathematics seems to be everywhere.

It´s definitely never been so good to be a mathematician.