Dictionary Definition
mathematician n : a person skilled in
mathematics
User Contributed Dictionary
English
Noun
mathematician (plural mathematicians) An expert on mathematics.
Translations
expert in mathematics
 Chinese: 数学家 (shùxuéjiā)
 Czech: matematik
 Dutch: wiskundige , mathematicus
 Estonian: matemaatik
 Finnish: matemaatikko
 French: mathématicien , mathématicienne
 German: Mathematiker
 Italian: matematico , matematica
 Japanese: 数学者 (sūgakusha)
 Norwegian: matematiker
 Polish: matematyk
 Portuguese: matemático
 Slovak: matematik , matematička
 Spanish: matemático , matemática
 Swedish: matematiker
Extensive Definition
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of
study and research is the field of mathematics.
Problems in mathematics
The publication of new discoveries in mathematics continues at an immense rate in hundreds of scientific journals. One of the most exciting recent developments was the proof of Fermat's last theorem by Andrew Wiles, following 350 years of the brightest mathematical minds attempting to settle the problem.There are many famous open problems in
mathematics, many dating back tens, if not hundreds, of years. Some
examples include the Riemann
hypothesis (from 1859) and Goldbach's
conjecture (1742). The Millennium
Prize Problems highlight longstanding, important problems in
mathematics and offers a US$1,000,000
reward for solving any one of them. One of these problems, the
Poincaré
conjecture (1904), was proven by Russian mathematician Grigori
Perelman in a paper released in 2003; peer review was completed
in 2006, and the proof was accepted as valid.
Motivation
Mathematicians are typically interested in
finding and describing patterns, or finding (mathematical) proofs
of theorems. Most problems and theorems come from within
mathematics itself, or are inspired by theoretical
physics. To a lesser extent, problems have come from economics, games and computer
science. Some problems are simply created for the challenge of
solving them. Although much mathematics is not immediately useful,
history has shown that eventually applications are found. For
example, number
theory originally seemed to be without purpose to the real
world, but after the development of computers it gained important
applications to algorithms and cryptography.
There are no Nobel Prizes
awarded to mathematicians. The award that is generally viewed as
having the highest prestige in mathematics is the Fields
Medal. This medal, sometimes described as the "Nobel Prize of
Mathematics", is awarded once every four years to as many as four
young (under 40 years old) awardees at a time. Other prominent
prizes include the Abel Prize,
the
Nemmers Prize, the Wolf Prize,
the Schock
Prize, and the Nevanlinna
Prize.
Differences
Mathematics differs from natural sciences in that physical
theories in the sciences are tested by experiments, while
mathematical statements are supported by proofs which may be
verified objectively by mathematicians. If a certain statement is
believed to be true by mathematicians (typically because special
cases have been confirmed to some degree) but has neither been
proven nor disproven, it is called a conjecture, as opposed to the
ultimate goal: a theorem that is proven true. Physical theories may
be expected to change whenever new information about our physical
world is discovered. Mathematics changes in a different way: new
ideas don't falsify old ones but rather are used to generalize what
was known before to capture a broader range of phenomena. For
instance, calculus (in
one variable) generalizes to multivariable
calculus, which generalizes to analysis on manifolds. The development of
algebraic
geometry from its classical to modern forms is a particularly
striking example of the way an area of mathematics can change
radically in its viewpoint without making what was proved before in
any way incorrect. While a theorem, once proved, is true forever,
our understanding of what the theorem really means gains in
profundity as the mathematics around the theorem grows. A
mathematician feels that a theorem is better understood when it can
be extended to apply in a broader setting than previously known.
For instance, Fermat's
little theorem for the nonzero integers modulo a prime
generalizes to Euler's
theorem for the invertible numbers modulo any nonzero integer,
which generalizes to
Lagrange's theorem for finite groups.
Demographics
While the majority of mathematicians are male, there have been some demographic changes since World War II. Some prominent female mathematicians are Ada Lovelace (1815  1852), Maria Gaetana Agnesi (17181799), Emmy Noether (1882  1935), Sophie Germain (1776  1831), Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850  1891), Rózsa Péter (1905  1977), Julia Robinson (1919  1985), Olga TausskyTodd (1906  1995), Émilie du Châtelet (1706 – 1749), Mary Cartwright (1900  1998), and Hypatia of Alexandria (ca. 400 AD). The AMS and other mathematical societies offer several prizes aimed at increasing the representation of women and minorities in the future of mathematics.Doctoral degree statistics for mathematicians in the United States
The number of doctoral degrees in mathematics awarded each year in the United States has ranged from 750 to 1230 over the past 35 years. In the early seventies, degree awards were at their peak, followed by a decline throughout the seventies, a rise through the eighties, and another peak through the nineties. Unemployment for new doctoral recipients peaked at 10.7% in 1994 but was as low as 3.3% by 2000. The percentage of female doctoral recipients increased from 15% in 1980 to 30% in 2000.As of 2000, there are approximately 21,000
fulltime faculty positions in mathematics at colleges and
universities in the United States. Of these positions about 36% are
at institutions whose highest degree granted in mathematics is a
bachelor's degree, 23% at institutions that offer a master's degree
and 41% at institutions offering a doctoral degree.
The median age for doctoral recipients in
19992000 was 30, and the mean age was 31.7.
Quotations
The following are quotations about
mathematicians, or by mathematicians.
 A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.

 —Attributed to both Alfréd Rényi and Paul Erdős
 Die Mathematiker sind eine Art Franzosen; redet man mit ihnen, so übersetzen sie es in ihre Sprache, und dann ist es alsobald ganz etwas anderes. (Mathematicians are [like] a sort of Frenchmen; if you talk to them, they translate it into their own language, and then it is immediately something quite different.)
 Some humans are mathematicians; others aren't.

 —Jane Goodall (1971) In the Shadow of Man
 Each generation has its few great mathematicians...and [the others'] research harms no one.

 —Alfred Adler, "Mathematics and Creativity"
 ''Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.

 —Bertrand Russell, The Study of Mathematics
 A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas.

 —G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology
 Another roof, another proof.
 Some of you may have met mathematicians and wondered how they got that way.
 It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul.''
See also
Notes
References
 A
Mathematician's Apology, by G. H.
Hardy. Memoir, with foreword by C. P. Snow.
 Reprint edition, Cambridge University Press, 1992; ISBN 0521427061
 First edition, 1940
 Dunham, William. The Mathematical Universe. John Wiley 1994.
 Paul Halmos. I Want to Be a Mathematician. SpringerVerlag 1985.
External links
 The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. A comprehensive list of detailed biographies.
 The Mathematics Genealogy Project. Allows to follow the succession of thesis advisors for most mathematicians, living or dead.
 Occupational Outlook – Mathematicians. Information on the occupation of mathematician from the US Department of Labor.
 Unsolved Problems. A list of sixteen major unsolved problems in mathematics at MathWorld.
 Sloan Career Cornerstone Center: Careers in Mathematics. Although UScentric, a useful resource for anyone interested in a career as a mathematician. Learn what mathematicians do on a daily basis, where they work, how much they earn, and more.
mathematician in Bulgarian: Математик
mathematician in Czech: Matematik
mathematician in Danish: Matematiker
mathematician in German: Mathematiker
mathematician in Esperanto: Matematikistoj
mathematician in Spanish: Matemático
mathematician in French: Mathématicien
mathematician in Irish: Matamaiticeoir
mathematician in Hebrew: מתמטיקאי
mathematician in Hungarian: Matematikus
mathematician in Indonesian: Matematikawan
mathematician in Italian: Matematico
mathematician in Japanese: 数学者
mathematician in Latin: Mathematicus
mathematician in Dutch: Wiskundige
mathematician in Slovenian: matematik
mathematician in Finnish: Matemaatikko
mathematician in Swedish: matematiker
mathematician in Thai: นักคณิตศาสตร์
mathematician in Turkish: Matematikçi
mathematician in Ukrainian: Математик
mathematician in Yoruba: Onímọ̀ ìsirò
mathematician in Chinese: 数学家