Probably not feasible, but...

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xepher
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Probably not feasible, but...

Postby xepher » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:35 pm UTC

First off, I want to say that I realize I might be acting impatient or not fully appreciating the difficulty of math at today's level.

I'm in 11th grade, and want to make a really good impression with colleges that I'm going to apply to. I'd consider myself above the average mathematics level even for my class (right now I'm interested in complex analysis, and fractal geometry). I'd also say that I have a good attitude toward math (specifically pure math) in general. The following probably isn't going to happen, but...

Would it be possible to get my name in a joint Mathematics paper at this age and level? If so, are there any resources for as to whom I could possibly join with?

Although it may be a different area of mathematics, something much more advanced than I'm used to, or most likely both, I'd be willing to do reading and research.

I'm not looking for flames if I'm sounding precocious; I myself realized that this would be really difficult.

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BlackSails
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby BlackSails » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:03 pm UTC

Do you know how to use matlab, or something similar to that? If so, you could probably work in some applied mathematics lab.

gorcee
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby gorcee » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:16 pm UTC

xepher wrote:First off, I want to say that I realize I might be acting impatient or not fully appreciating the difficulty of math at today's level.

I'm in 11th grade, and want to make a really good impression with colleges that I'm going to apply to. I'd consider myself above the average mathematics level even for my class (right now I'm interested in complex analysis, and fractal geometry). I'd also say that I have a good attitude toward math (specifically pure math) in general. The following probably isn't going to happen, but...

Would it be possible to get my name in a joint Mathematics paper at this age and level? If so, are there any resources for as to whom I could possibly join with?

Although it may be a different area of mathematics, something much more advanced than I'm used to, or most likely both, I'd be willing to do reading and research.

I'm not looking for flames if I'm sounding precocious; I myself realized that this would be really difficult.


Possible, yes. Likely, no.

There are journals out there that are aimed at collegiate-level mathematics. The American Mathematical Monthly is the one that comes to mind. But the process of publication is long: even if you were to submit a paper tomorrow, and it required almost no edits, the chances of it being accepted for publication prior to your applications to college is pretty slim.

Publication typically requires original research, and most original research in mathematics these days is extremely complicated and technical, requiring quite a bit of education to be able to understand. Journals like the AMM do publish things that are not strictly original research; however, many of these things have historical context, and often times they are papers that take an old result (say, applying a long-forgotten method for calculating a cube root or somesuch) and applying it to a new concept. They're interesting from an academic perspective, but they rarely have any practical use. Nevertheless, they are usually clever and educational.

If you were really insistent on doing something along these lines, your best bet would be an independent study, and you could work on a paper with an advisor. It wouldn't be for publication necessarily, because you probably couldn't get through the clearinghouse stuff in time, but you could write the paper (maybe even submit it), and submit it as a supplement to your applications. Truth be told, an admissions committee would be just as impressed with your discipline and self-motivation by doing such a thing as they would be if you had a publication to your name. The college application process doesn't really care too much about what you did in the past, it is there to assess your potential for what you may do in the future. What your prior accomplishments show is your likeliness to continue that pattern of behavior in and after school.

++$_
Mo' Money
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby ++$_ » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:37 am UTC

It's not completely impossible, but it is unlikely. (I know one person who wrote a math paper before college and presented it at a conference, so it isn't impossible, but he had a number of factors working in his favor -- in particular, the paper was in combinatorics, where elementary techniques are more likely to yield results.)

I would suggest that right now, your time would be better spent learning lots of interesting and important math, so that later, when you actually need to do research and write papers (instead of it being a luxury kind of thing), you have more tools at your disposal.

Tirian
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby Tirian » Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:04 pm UTC

But you also don't need to be formally published in an approved math journal to be able to demonstrate your talents and interests. If you read some mathematical book that is outside the high school curriculum and write your own thoughts about it (like reproving some of the fundamental results in your own words) and typeset that properly and put a PDF of it up on your homepage, you'd have something that you could point someone to that would demonstrate that you have skills and a dedication that might set you apart from other applicants. Even if you're proving something well known and elementary like the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic or the Five Color Theorem, you're showing that you come into the game with the skills of understanding abstract theories and writing solid technical work in LaTeX.

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Eastwinn
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby Eastwinn » Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:But you also don't need to be formally published in an approved math journal to be able to demonstrate your talents and interests. If you read some mathematical book that is outside the high school curriculum and write your own thoughts about it (like reproving some of the fundamental results in your own words) and typeset that properly and put a PDF of it up on your homepage, you'd have something that you could point someone to that would demonstrate that you have skills and a dedication that might set you apart from other applicants. Even if you're proving something well known and elementary like the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic or the Five Color Theorem, you're showing that you come into the game with the skills of understanding abstract theories and writing solid technical work in LaTeX.


Publishing independently online seems like the best plan. I had the same idea as you, OP, but decided that getting something published in a major journal was infeasible, and if not, too much of a hassle.
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xepher
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby xepher » Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:45 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:But you also don't need to be formally published in an approved math journal to be able to demonstrate your talents and interests. If you read some mathematical book that is outside the high school curriculum and write your own thoughts about it (like reproving some of the fundamental results in your own words) and typeset that properly and put a PDF of it up on your homepage, you'd have something that you could point someone to that would demonstrate that you have skills and a dedication that might set you apart from other applicants. Even if you're proving something well known and elementary like the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic or the Five Color Theorem, you're showing that you come into the game with the skills of understanding abstract theories and writing solid technical work in LaTeX.


Now to just learn LaTeX. Heh.

gorcee
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby gorcee » Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:50 pm UTC

xepher wrote:
Tirian wrote:But you also don't need to be formally published in an approved math journal to be able to demonstrate your talents and interests. If you read some mathematical book that is outside the high school curriculum and write your own thoughts about it (like reproving some of the fundamental results in your own words) and typeset that properly and put a PDF of it up on your homepage, you'd have something that you could point someone to that would demonstrate that you have skills and a dedication that might set you apart from other applicants. Even if you're proving something well known and elementary like the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic or the Five Color Theorem, you're showing that you come into the game with the skills of understanding abstract theories and writing solid technical work in LaTeX.


Now to just learn LaTeX. Heh.


Easiest way to learn it: do your homework in it. You'll be killing two birds with one stone. A.) you get your homework done, and it looks all snazzy and B.) you get to learn LaTeX without feeling like you're going out of your way.

In fact, when I was in college, I decided to learn LaTeX and ended up doing almost all of my assignments in every class in it, even essays, etc. It allows for so much more control than other editors, although the price of that control is a steeper learning curve. Nevertheless, it's a good and marketable tool to have in your skillset down the road.

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Quaternia
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Re: Probably not feasible, but...

Postby Quaternia » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:43 pm UTC

Yeah, as the others said, it's not impossible but... extremely rare.
I know one guy who was able to pull it off, but he was taking 4th year university courses by the 9th grade, so it's by far the exception.
In any case, you would need to speak to a professor and show your interest and particular skill level, they could then guide you best. You probably want to tell them you are interested in math, tell them a bit about yourself, and ask them if there's anything you could do.
Drop by a local university's math department; you would be surprised at how nice a lot of professors are when you just drop by and say "uh, I'm not from this university, but I was wondering <math question>".
Also, as the others said, you could try the applied math department; in fact I would recommend this first, especially if you're good at programming. Perhaps there's something you can do there.
So yeah, in the end, it's a bit about luck (being at the right place with the right people at the right time), a bit about you being really determined about finding something/making something happen, and a lot about your math skill level (which is really hard to judge because, well, classes don't really prepare you for math research, they just teach you the math you will need).
If you wish to try something in pure math, I would recommend combinatorics or game theory. They require the least amount of previous knowledge; there's a reason a lot of REU's offer topics in those fields.

As others said, there's really nothing to lose from going and talking to professors. Maybe you'll fall on Mr. Mean who will tell you "he's busy", but that's about it in terms of negatives. And on the plus side, even if you don't do anything huge, but just network with the professor, you can tell that to admissions. Especially if it's a professor at their university! (just don't lie and exaggerate what you are doing with the professor, because they can and will check.)

A lot of this is conjectural, because it depends on your math level. You mention complex analysis; that's quite an advanced topic, usually done somewhere in 2nd year at university or later. Are you able to redo the main proofs with full rigour? If no, are you able to do formal epsilon-delta proofs in real analysis, at least in R? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, that puts you ahead of the curve by a good amount.
Yakk wrote:hey look, the algorithm is a FSM. Thus, by his noodly appendage, QED


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