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After some googling around, I can't seem to find a definite answer to this question.

When can someone call themselves a mathematician? Is it after a b.sc. in mathematics? After graduate school? Or perhaps only after completing a phD?

Or is the title perhaps not bound to education?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by user7530, Bruno Joyal, Tobias Kildetoft, martini, Potato Dec 10 '13 at 19:19

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Mathematician is not a protected title, so this will be primarily opinion based. Voting to close as such. –  Tobias Kildetoft Dec 10 '13 at 19:18
Why vote to close? Why didn't you deliver your answer with some sources and I could have voted it as the correct answer? –  Paze Dec 10 '13 at 19:18
At least in my country you are legally a Mathematician if you successfully conclude your undergraduate studies on Mathematics (I think it would be B.Sc in Mathematics). –  Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Dec 10 '13 at 19:19
Your question might be too subjective for this website. However my personal opinion is that "Mathematician" is not a title bound to education and it is not a specific job title. It is a vocation. A Mathematician is someone who practices Mathematics, learns new Mathematics, thinks about Mathematics, and contributes to it in a meaningful way (much like, say, what a Musician or a Physicist is). –  Carlo Von Schnitzel Dec 10 '13 at 19:25
In England, undergraduate students of mathematics are sometimes referred to as mathematicians. In the old old days, "mathematician" was a synonym for astrologer. Words do not have fixed meanings. –  André Nicolas Dec 10 '13 at 19:47

1 Answer 1

I don't have the book with me right now, but I believe that Steven Krantz writes in A Mathematician's Survival Guide that those who merely(?) attain a Ph.D. should not call themselves mathematicians. He thinks a significant result is needed.

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Wouldn't attaining a Ph.D. justify 'significant result'? –  Paze Dec 10 '13 at 19:20
@Paze People have gotten doctorates for very uninteresting or uncreative work. The main requirement for a Ph.D. is having your advisor and members of your dissertation committee sign off on your thesis. Many times the committee members don't read or skim the thesis, so it's mainly the advisor's decision. –  Potato Dec 10 '13 at 19:26
What is the criteria for 'significant result' then? Would publication be sufficient? –  BaronVT Dec 10 '13 at 19:30
@BaronVT There's no objective criteria for a 'significant result', of course. You'd have to ask Krantz what he meant. –  Potato Dec 10 '13 at 19:34

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