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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How to Become an Actuary in 9 Steps | Life Insurance -

Actuaries can make a very high salary, but it takes a ton of work. Here's what you need to know, recommends Steve Fiorillo, writer for TheStreet.

Are you someone with a love of data and statistics? Someone with a keen interest in computer software? If you're a math whiz, or even just someone with a passion for the subject, an awful lot of companies could use you and there are ways to make a career out of it.

One such career is an actuary. It's a career that may be heavily associated with insurance but can be far more wide-reaching than that. If you put in the work needed to become a professional actuary, you could find yourself in a lucrative, stable career. But be warned: it's a lot of work.

If you think this could be a worthwhile line of work that's worth the prep, you'll need to ask: what is an actuary, and how can I become one?

What Does an Actuary Do? 
An actuary is essentially an analyst for risk management, doing the math to figure out how risky something might be and determining how best to minimize it in the future.

Actuaries are most often needed in the insurance industry where there is a lot of financial risk involved in health insurance, life insurance and home insurance. Here, actuaries use data and a number of factors to determine just how risky an insurance policy is to give to someone.

An actuary is expected to determine how likely a risky scenario is to play out - and then determine a way to minimize that damage. If risky events keep happening, an actuary could be asked to use their numbers to figure out how to decrease the times they occur.

Much of this is done through computer software, since the math is particularly advanced - it's why you'll need not just math courses, but computer science ones in your education as well... 

How to Become an Actuary 
Actuaries are expected to be in high demand over the next several years, so it's smart to get prepared for it sooner than later. Becoming an actuary is a multi-step process that is still ongoing even in the beginning of your actual career.

Here's how to get your start as an actuary.


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Never say ‘I am not a maths person’ in front of children: expert |

Paul Bradwell, Subject Leader Mathematics, Kings School Barsha, Dubai, explains how parents and teachers can make the subject be appreciated for its beauty and application.
Photo: Supplied

1. Who is responsible for making maths seem like a chore? Parents? Teachers?
It can be very frustrating for a student to be sat across from a parent with them saying, “I was never very good at maths” or “I’m not a maths person”. This can be damaging as it normalises the idea of being bad at maths for the child and validates any thoughts that being good at maths is a natural ability. There is a responsibility on all of us to ensure that every child believes the truth, which is that anyone can study maths successfully. Any student can succeed at anything if they are willing to put in the effort.


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Nearly half of US female scientists leave full-time science after first child |

Holly Else, Reporter at Nature Research says, Study reveals proportion of people leaving full-time careers in science after the birth of their first child.

Having a child can lead to scientists switching or quitting their careers.
Photo: Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty

More than 40% of women with full-time jobs in science leave the sector or go part time after having their first child, according to a study of how parenthood affects career trajectories in the United States. By contrast, only 23% of new fathers leave or cut their working hours.

The analysis (see ‘Parents in science’), led by Erin Cech, a sociologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, might help to explain the persistent under-representation of women in jobs that involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The study also highlights the impact of fatherhood on a career in science, she says...

A ‘structural’ problem Virginia Valian, a psychologist at the City University of New York, says: “The results showing that fathers also leave STEM reinforces the hypothesis that the problem is a structural one, in which dedicated professionals are not expected to have a personal life, and, indeed, are punished for so doing.”

Ami Radunskaya, a mathematician at Pomona College in Claremont, California, who mentors young female mathematicians, says women can become exhausted from constantly having to prove themselves in a professional environment that is, “at best, challenging to everyone and, at worst, openly sexist”.

Additional resources
Cech, E. A. & Blair-Loy, M. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2019).


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Mathematician painting inspires local students during Black History Month | Local - KBTX

An Instagram post made by a Bryan High School theater teacher is catching the eye of some notable names in Hollywood, summarizes Erika Fernandez, Reporter at KBTX news team.

Photo: KBTX

What started as a challenge among teachers turned into a much bigger message for Black History Month. 

Inside Ms. Robert’s theater class, students learn about the arts. Outside, her classroom door is catching eyes.

"I had no idea it would blow up this big," said Bryan High School freshman Madison Bailey.
The school's Key Club hosted a door-painting competition for February, and Bailey Robert made hers one to remember.

"It meshed history and film and theater together for them in a brand new way," Robert said.

Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA in the 1950s, is on the door of room 4150...

Although what goes on inside Ms. Robert's class is far from math or science, students say they're inspired by Johnson and her will to thrive in the face of adversity.
Read more... 

Source: KBTX

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Empty Brain | Data & Information - aeon

This post originally appeared on aeon.

Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California notes, No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli.

What’s in a brain?
Photo: Unsplash

The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. For more than half a century now, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists and other experts on human behaviour have been asserting that the human brain works like a computer.

To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. Thanks to evolution, human neonates, like the newborns of all other mammalian species, enter the world prepared to interact with it effectively. A baby’s vision is blurry, but it pays special attention to faces, and is quickly able to identify its mother’s...

But here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently. Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever...

In his book In Our Own Image (2015), the artificial intelligence expert George Zarkadakis describes six different metaphors people have employed over the past 2,000 years to try to explain human intelligence.
Read more... 

Source: aeon via Pocket. 

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Moving into Management: The Skills New Managers Are Learning | Leadership - LinkedIn Learning

Imagine you’ve just reached a major landmark in your career - you’ve been promoted from an individual contributor to a manager! according to Sophie (Wharton) Smith, Insight Analyst, Learning Solutions at LinkedIn.

Photo: The Learning Blog

This is a moment to celebrate, but it can also be a challenging transition. Research suggests that adjusting to a promotion can be a stressful life experience; however, it’s also the perfect time to learn.

So when new managers seek help, what types of skills are they looking to learn? We analyzed data from LinkedIn Learning to understand what courses this group is watching at higher rates than the average user. Of the 13,000 courses on our platform, which do first-time managers flock to when they’re starting their new role?

Two main insights emerged from our analysis: new managers are focused on thinking more strategically and learning to build stronger relationships.

Source: LinkedIn Learning (Blog) 

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Significant Endowment Inspires Rural Students ‘To Learn To Love The Flute’ | Colorado Mesa University - CBS Denver

Matt Kroschel, Mountain Newsroom Reporter explains, A woman on Colorado’s Western Slope wanted to make a difference in the lives of a very specific group of young musicians. In 2018, Dr. Ruth Maurer gifted Colorado Mesa University a significant endowment for the purposes of enhancing the flute in rural communities.

Dr. Ruth Maurer
(Photo: CBS)

Her act of kindness is already impacting young lives in rural western Colorado.

“I thought about this for a while. I decided I would like to give some money to CMU because they’ve been really nice to me at the music department. They make it feel like home,” she said.

Maurer is a Renaissance woman who is not only a mathematician with a Ph.D but also an artist and philanthropist who pioneered a pathway for young women.

“It’s just amazing. It’s amazing, because it just comes from nowhere. Very generous woman who loves what she does, very talented. When people want to give back like that it warms the heart,” CMU President Tim Foster said...

Using the newly established Ruth Maurer Flute Endowment, the music department will host an annual Flute Fest West, including a Western region flute competition for small, rural high school students.

“You want to put your money where you can do the most good on something that you really like. I really like the flute. I think by endowing this flute program in helping it grow, more people will learn to love the flute,” Maurer said.
Read more... 

Source: CBS Denver

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Latest prime number discovery mind-bogglingly enormous | Complete Colorado

We have a winner! In December, Patrick LaRoche of Ocala, Fla., discovered the largest prime number known to humanity, observes Barry Fagin, Senior Fellow in Technology Policy at the Independence Institute, free maret think tank in Denver, and a Professor of Computer Science.  

Geralt/Pixabay [Licensed under CC0 Creative Commons]

It’s got almost 25 million digits. Just writing it down would take you a couple of years. Provided you didn’t take a vacation.

A prime number is a number greater than 1 that is divisible only by 1 and itself. For example, 2, 3, 5, and 7 are primes. 6, 8, 9 and 10 are not. Primes have fascinated humans ever since we learned to count, because they are the fundamental building blocks of arithmetic. And yet, there is no known pattern to them.

They’re just out there, waiting to be found.

How many primes are there? Over two thousand years ago, the Greek mathematician Euclid proved they were infinite in number. That’s how long we’ve been studying these strange beasts of the counting world...

For the past few decades, the largest known primes have been what are known as Mersenne Primes. Marin Mersenne was a Catholic priest and theologian who lived in the 17th century. He was also a gifted scientist and mathematician. The primes that bear his name are of a special form that makes them easy to test quickly, even though at this point they’re now mind-bogglingly enormous.

The new champion is the 51st Mersenne Prime. It will bear Laroche’s name for all eternity. How big is it, you ask? 

Source: Complete Colorado

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For a Black Mathematician, What It’s Like to Be the ‘Only One’ | Science - The New York Times

Amy Harmon, national correspondent for The New York Times, covering the intersection of science and society reports, Fewer than 1 percent of doctorates in math are awarded to African-Americans. Edray Goins, who earned one of them, found the upper reaches of the math world a challenging place.

At the Baltimore conference, Dr. Goins delivered a keynote address titled “A Dream Deferred: 50 Years of Blacks in Mathematics.”
Photo: Jared Soares for The New York Times

It was not an overt incident of racism that prompted Edray Goins, an African-American mathematician in the prime of his career, to abandon his tenured position on the faculty of a major research university last year.

The hostilities he perceived were subtle, the signs of disrespect unspoken.

There was the time he was brushed aside by the leaders of his field when he approached with a math question at a conference. There were the reports from students in his department at Purdue University that a white professor had warned them not to work with him.

One of only perhaps a dozen black mathematicians among nearly 2,000 tenured faculty members in the nation’s top 50 math departments, Dr. Goins frequently asked himself whether he was right to factor race into the challenges he faced.

That question from a senior colleague on his area of expertise, directed to someone else?...

“Who do they make eye contact with?”
In an essay that has been widely shared over the last year, Dr. Goins sought to explain himself. He extolled the virtues of teaching undergraduates and vowed to continue his research. But he also gave voice to a lament about the loneliness of being black in a profession marked by extraordinary racial imbalance.

“I am an African-American male,” Dr. Goins wrote in a blog published by the American 

Mathematical Society. “I have been the only one in most of the universities I’ve been to — the only student or faculty in the mathematics department.”

“To say that I feel isolated,” he continued, “is an understatement.”
Experiences similar to Dr. Goins’s are reflected in recent studies by academic institutions on attrition among underrepresented minorities and women across many disciplines. 

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Winner of the 2019 PROSE Award for Mathematics, from the Association of American Publishers | Book - Cambridge University Press

Be sure to check out the New edition of High-Dimensional Probability, An Introduction with Applications in Data Science by Roman Vershynin, University of California, Irvine. 

High-dimensional probability offers insight into the behavior of random vectors, random matrices, random subspaces, and objects used to quantify uncertainty in high dimensions. Drawing on ideas from probability, analysis, and geometry, it lends itself to applications in mathematics, statistics, theoretical computer science, signal processing, optimization, and more. It is the first to integrate theory, key tools, and modern applications of high-dimensional probability...

A broad range of illustrations is embedded throughout, including classical and modern results for covariance estimation, clustering, networks, semidefinite programming, coding, dimension reduction, matrix completion, machine learning, compressed sensing, and sparse regression.
  • Closes the gap between the standard probability curriculum and what mathematical data scientists need to know
  • Selects the core ideas and methods and presents them systematically with modern motivating applications to bring readers quickly up to speed
  • Features integrated exercises that invite readers to sharpen their skills and build practical intuition

Source: Cambridge University Press 

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