How smart do you have to be to study Mathematics as a Major ?

I am not gifted by any means, not that I know of at least.How much of the stuff like topology, PDE and whatnot can be tackled with practise ? I am really thinking deep about doing a hodge podge of Mathematics and CS but my father whose education is mainly within Mathematics/Mathematical Economics is undermining my goal and implicitly suggesting I may not be up for it,he did his whole Education in the UK so I really don’t think he knows about the U.S system. I really hate being stuck in a business major/ people at the business school I go to are kind of dumb people who all “wanna make cash” without pondering you have to bust your ass to do so.The advisors dont do much either since alot of them studied liberal arts even within departments and although they know names of courses and stuff they don’t actually know what goes on inside.

p.s: I love to work in the sell side but given my visa status and all that crap I take any gig that comes my way and gives me room to operate.

From the curriculum I have seen, the best way I can explain it is this: if in other mathematical courses you have been able to sit through a lecture, read the assigned material, and complete the practice problems as your way of mastering the material, without any laborious overnighters or anything like that, you’ll be fine. I took a quant class a year ago for fun (don’t judge me) and it had been about 10-12 years since I last had any calculus. Subject matter was matrix algebra through multivariate differential calculus. I didn’t remember much going in, but paying attention and doing the practice problems got me all the knowledge I needed. The material sounded fancy as hell, and it wasn’t anything I knew, but it wasn’t bad by any means.

As you said, if you’re willing to bust your ass, just do it.

So I took some basic math courses (Calc 1-4, linear alg and them some intro to theoretical mathematics) in the evenings a few years ago to brush up. The calc and linear alg required a healthy workload, but I never felt concerned I wouldn’t get an A in the class. Once I hit the theoretical coursework I struggled significantly and felt like I would have needed to be a full time student to really focus and excel. So I guess, my point is that it can vary but I wouldn’t be surprised if aptitude becomes significantly more important as the program progresses. For selecting a major, think about your background and what you really want to do. In other words, will becoming another student requiring a visa with a hodge podge of math and CS leave you in any better of a position? Or perhaps a worse one? Personally, I’d have gone the medical route if I had the do over.

go for it. if you like using logic and creativity to solve problems, you’ll like it. i was a math major and my favorite thing from college (academically) was the aha! moment when I finally figured out how to prove a theorem after staring at it and trying different things for hours. it’s great practice (the best in my opinion) for being an effective/productive human being.

You need to be pretty good at math to major in it. It’s hard, and if you’re not quantitatively inclined, you will likely struggle. If you are quantitatively inclined, it’s the best subject period. Only you can answer that though.

I think with that hodge podge I want to move into Data Analysis or Quant oriented and not necessarily in finance.Math,Stat and CS.The medical field is not something I really like.I do like the business courses,it’s just the people seem to be using less of their brain and thus becoming stupid as it goes by.The only reason I am considering this path instead of the accounting route is the flexibility you may enjoy.A math/stat major with a minor in CS in my opinion can work in different roles which may lead to a higher chance of visa sponsor than an accounting major.Also I am considering grad school so I don’t want an immediate job, I am just really scared of thinking I am too stupid to understand Topology and getting a shit GPA.My father studied at a much more sadistic system where the goal was to crap on students and show them they are nothing(oxbridge). I am just scared he may be right, but then I look at the visa statistics and see about 100,000 were sponsored for STEM and only about 4000 by the big four.I have managed to keep a 3.6 plus gpa so far, I really don’t wanna make a 2.0 out of it because of overconfidence.The school I went in the home country had staff who were crack heads and professors who gave you an A if you paid them something like $100 so I appreaciate the whole U.S education system much more than you guys and don’t wanna limit my potential but then again my potential may be doing the business degree, people are not equal in all aspects.

I got an “A” in calc 1.But my father says calc 1 is not actual mathematics.I watched an MIT linear Algebra course and did not feel so bad,yeah I think with an undergrad in mathematics you can do alot more in grad school than an accounting degree.Furthermore alot of my father’s friends in the U.S are doing mathematical Finance/Econ stuff at high level so I do have some people I know there(alot more than accounting which is 0 connections) but even they won’t employ me with a 3.0 gpa for their reputation’s sake.The sad thing is my school mathematics & cs is ranked 17 in the U.S and the business school is something like 66 or so.

undergrad courses are … undergrad … it’s not like you’re getting a PhD … If you’re interested just go for it - it’s doable

I somehow agree.

You have to be quantitatively inclined, or you will have to work harder to get the work done. Mostly you have to enjoy that kind of thinking so that doing the work doesn’t feel like torture. A lot of mathematics is about formal logic and using symbolic manipulation as a language to represent that logic.

You ask how smart you have to be to major in math. General intelligence typically includes quantitative kinds of intelligence, so being super bright at everything makes it easier of course. However, people who are idiot savants are typically good at math and not necessarily that intelligent overall.

It’s a bit like physical conditioning: some people are better at different things, and people at the top of their conditioning seem out of this world, but most people can improve a lot through doing dedicated work. The real key is whether you enjoy doing the work and whether you can summon the discipline to do it.

It’s likely that if you are so bad at math that you will regret doing it, you already know it.

Also, some types of mathematics are really about applying logic and/or symbolic manipulation and grinding away (e.g. systems of linear equations with the same numbers of unknowns).

Other kinds of mathematics are about finding little tricks that solve problems (e.g. trigonometric substitutions). I was not very good at those, but over time you pick up enough tricks. I haven’t done much of that kind of math in a long time, so probably am back to square 1 or 2.

I do enjoy talking about very abstract things, if it is like physical conditioning where you can improve A LOT than that is a good thing.You are right if you hate mathematics you would know beforehand,my situation is like if I am gonna suck at it or not.

Where is our horse-owning friend when we need him???

Working on his houdini skills when we need him.

I’m not sure what you guys are discussing when it comes to different types of math, but I think the math curriculum is pretty standard for undergrad? Single variable calc, real analysis, algebra, then with a few electives in topology, complex analysis, geometry, statistics etc. But the core is really Analysis and Algebra IMO. Not linear algebra or multivariable calc, which are really more applications.

Bchad, when in your major did you transition from doing Calc I type math to real (proof-based) math?

Yep,the courses are standard with different tracks,If I go with the mathematics major, statistics is what I want to go with as my track.I know for a fact that the U.S system is more friendly than the british version.

I did physics as an undergrad, so the math I did was applied and basically stopped at linear algebra and its application to differential equations. That came after the multivariate calculus series, which I guess it has to if you are going to start to talk about things like Jacobian matrices, though you can probably teach a fair amount of linear algebra without multivariate calculus if you just skip that part.

It was tricky for me because 1) I had trouble imagining 5 dimensional spaces being projected onto 4 dimensional ones in my mind, 2) we didn’t have things like matlab to invert matrices and I was always afraid that I wouln’t be able to do it fast enough, 3) I was frustrated that 90% of the answers to our differential equation problem were e^(stuff)+C and I thought "the world surely has got to involve more answers than e^(something).

However, I always liked logic and how the notation allows you to perform logical operations that would be hard to find or see if you didn’t have the notation and instead had to use a verbal argument. So there is an interesting link between mathematics and ordinary everyday language. So I investigated a lot of that stuff on my own just to get a flavor of that kind of mathematics.

A lot of the symbolic proof-based stuff only started to make sense to me later, and I realized that I actually had absorbed most of what they were trying to teach me: I had merely expected it to be applicable to a larger number of situations than it in fact was (though there were lots of other situations that it could be used for that I hadn’t thought of at the time).

Sam, if you can, try to check out a book called Calculus I by Michael Spivak. See if you can follow.

Will order it now.

The hardest part about upper level mathematics is the algebra (as well as trig). The rest is concepts and “recipies”. You have to know all the algebra tricks and know what is solvable and what is not. It’s harder than you think.