 
Summary: Letter from a mathematician
Plus reader Hassan Azad is a Professor of Mathematics at the King Fahd University
in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He has asked us to reprint a letter he wrote his students,
explaining the joys of being a mathematician. We think the points he makes have wide
relevance.
Dear Students,
Most of you have joined this university with clear ideas about a profession in
engineering or business. I have been teaching mathematics here since 1996 and have
experienced that in a class of forty, there is at least one student who has obvious
mathematical talents. For such students, adopting mathematics as a profession would
be more rewarding than a career in engineering or business. After talking with such
students, I found that the reasons why such mathematically talented students do not
opt for mathematics are based basically on two gross misconceptions about
mathematics. Namely, that
· there is nothing new to be discovered in mathematics
· the only job opportunities that mathematics provides are in teaching.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While teaching is an essential profession and
very rewarding for a large majority, there are many other avenues open to
mathematicians.
I can very well see why you think mathematics is a dead subject. Every year, Nobel
