The rise of the math class

The rise of the math class

Summary: Worth reading: BusinessWeek has a story on how mathematicians are in demand as businesses look to use numbers to reveal the hidden treasures of data.The world is moving into a new age of numbers.

TOPICS: Big Data

Worth reading: BusinessWeek has a story on how mathematicians are in demand as businesses look to use numbers to reveal the hidden treasures of data.

The world is moving into a new age of numbers. 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."

This mathematical modeling of humanity promises to be one of the great undertakings of the 21st century. It will grow in scope to include much of the physical world as mathematicians get their hands on new flows of data, from atmospheric sensors to the feeds from millions of security cameras. It's a parallel world that's taking shape, a laboratory for innovation and discovery composed of numbers, vectors, and algorithms. "We turn the world of content into math, and we turn you into math," says Howard Kaushansky, CEO of Boulder (Colo.)-based Umbria Inc., a company that uses math to analyze marketing trends online.

Topic: Big Data

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  • This is not new...

    ... as the article observes. And using purely mathematical analysis doesn't produce reliable results because factors are not properly identified.

    However good the mathematicians, identifying events and other influences on whatever is being measured is essential.

    At the same time this type analysis continues, people with no mathematical interest but administrative authority are supposed to be obtaining summary numbers without the mediation of people who know what they mean.

    Two opposite mistakes going at the same time...
    Anton Philidor
  • The collaboration is much broader than just math and computer science

    1) Calculus was largely developed by physicists but modern mathematics is generally specialized enough that subject matter scientists (biologists, physicians, psychologists, economists, and all other branches) collaborate with those intensively trained in the mathematical disciplines. Collaboration spurs the growth of new knowledge among all of the collaborators. Mathematicians/statisticians do not single handedly change science in other disciplines. The stellar salaries in mathematics go to stellar mathematicians with marketable research interests. Just to be clear, this isn't a 'get rich quick' profession.

    2) I'm just quibbling. It is a good general interest article and I recommend that others read it.