Math Babe

Our new favorite math blog is Math Babe,  We’ve put a link to it in our blogroll for your interneting convenience.

Whose the Math Babe?  She is Cathy O’Neil.  She earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was postdoc at MIT, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry.   She then chucked it and switched over to the private sector.  She worked for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and for our very own RiskMetrics (she moved on when they became part of MSCI).  Since this spring she’s been a numerological guru for a startup company called Intent Media.

She started up a blog where she discusses everything from her views on the mortgage industry and what to do about banks that are “too big to fail”, to what it’s like to be a woman in the hedge fund industry, to why and how to think about being a math person in industry.

If friend of the Blog and Math Club speaker Christine Jerritts spent her time blogging instead of driving race cars, she’d be Cathy O’Neil (okay, there are probably other differences, too).

For just one example, check out her recent post “What kind of math nerd job should you have?”  where she says that cataloging your sins is a practical way to decide on your career path:

Say you’re a math nerd, finishing your Ph.D. or a post-doc, and you’re wondering whether academics is really the place for you. Well I’ve got some advice for you! Actually I will have some advice for you, after you’ve answered a few questions. It’s all about fit. Since I know them best, I will center my questions and my advice around academic math vs. hedge fund quant vs. data scientist at a startup.

By the way, this is the advice I find myself telling people when they ask. It’s supposed to be taken over a beer and with lots of tongue in cheek.

1) What are your vices?

It turns out that the vices of the three jobs we are considering are practically disjoint! If you care about a good fit for your vices, then please pay attention.

– Cathy O’Neil

She is not shy about telling her opinions.  For example, if you don’t like the idea of doing the Putnam exam, then you may agree with her that “Math contests kind of suck“.

For your favorite Math Babe

P.S.  It’s safe to say that the Math Babe is in no way affiliated with mathbabes.com (a website not half so interesting as Dr. O’Neil’s!).

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