I read "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers," a great book about Paul Erdős, last summer. The book describes Ronald Graham, a super interesting character who worked on discrete math and graph theory at AT&T Bell Labs, and often collaborated and baby sat Erdős for many years.
Yesterday, I went to talk to my professor who is at the top of her field. She introduced me to a retired mathematician who had been her mentor. He had worked in IBM's dynamical systems team, now defunct. Obviously, he had been doing cutting edge stuff in the field of dynamical systems.
Am I correct to extrapolate from these two events that serious "pure" mathematics used to be done in the private sector but isn't anymore? If so, what happened? Has computer science or physics subsumed math in the private sector, or did companies already suck the most they could out of basic research in most applicable fields we consider pure math?
This is important to me as I love math, but am not sure a future professorship in math academia is in the cards for me.
Thanks in advance for the responses!