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Student Stories

Discover real life stories and experiences from our inspirational alumni

The professors and teachers in the department are experts in, and truly love, their field, and this reflects in the way they teach their courses.
It was easy to compose a rich and challenging curriculum.

 

BSc Mathematics and/with Economics


Dahlia Radif

Dahlia Radif - BSc Mathematics with Economics 2015-18

I really enjoyed my time at LSE! The courses I studied gave me both breadth and depth in various areas of pure and applied maths, and there is flexibility in course choice, so it is easy to branch out into statistics, programming or economics. The professors and teachers in the department are experts in, and truly love, their field, and this reflects in the way they teach their courses. I learned how to think and work independently, but there is also an abundance of resources available when you need help; professors will really help you find your way, both academically and career-wise. 

What I really appreciate is the balance that LSE taught me. I felt prepared mathematically to go on and do further study in engineering and computational mathematics. However, being surrounded by social sciences meant that I learned so much outside of my degree and theoretical maths as well. I think that’s what makes studying at LSE so unique, and I’m so grateful for my experience here.

I am now doing a two year Masters in Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University.

 

Bo Wei Ooi

Bo Wei Ooi - BSc Mathematics and Economics 2015-18

I thoroughly enjoyed my three years at the LSE. The programme in Mathematics and Economics is rigorous and comprehensive, which helped me develop a strong technical background and these skills have proven useful in both academia and industry. I also appreciated the flexibility in course choices, which allowed me to pursue my specific interests and shape my own curriculum.

The Department was very supportive throughout the entire programme. The teaching was excellent and offered an environment where I could interact with the faculty on a regular basis. I am currently doing a Masters in Statistics at the University of Chicago.

 

MSc Applicable Mathematics


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Suzanne Bloks - MSc Applicable Mathematics 2017-18

After having studied undergraduate degrees in Mathematics, Law and Philosophy, I wanted to deepen my knowledge of mathematics that is applied to economics, political science and philosophy. The MSc in Applicable Mathematics at LSE gave me the unique opportunity to explore my interests by allowing me to take courses in the Department of Mathematics as well as courses in other departments. 

The close contact with academics in all courses was very inspiring and stimulating. During the dissertation, I got the chance to work on an open problem with my supervisor, which was the best introduction to mathematical research that I could wish for. The academics always have their door open to discuss problems and play a key role in the friendly and open environment at LSE, in which people from all cultures and backgrounds are at home.

Without the MSc in Applicable Mathematics, I would have never embarked upon a PhD in Computer Science. The degree has opened my eyes to the types of mathematical puzzles that spark my imagination and the ways I can combine my mathematical interests with law and philosophy.

 

Regis Gourdel

Regis Gourdel - MSc Applicable Mathematics 2017-18

I chose to pursue a Masters in Applicable Mathematics at the LSE because of the broad range of courses available and the possibility to enjoy its unique environment. It was easy to compose a rich and challenging curriculum. Eventually, this helped me integrate the European Central Bank as a graduate trainee at the end of the program. Thus, my background in mathematics applied to economics has proven useful in real policy applications.

Students in the Department of Mathematics benefit from a good interaction with academics. It is also easy to satisfy one's curiosity by taking courses from other departments or enjoying joint events, so that everyone can make the best out of LSE in the way that suits them.

 

Siddhant Walia

Siddhant Walia - MSc Applicable Mathematics 2017-18

Having completed my BSc in Mathematics, I wanted to enhance my quantitative/mathematical capabilities in a more “real-world” setting. The MSc in Applicable Mathematics provided me with the perfect opportunity to move away from the abstractions of pure mathematics, by helping me use mathematics as a tool to understand and solve problems in a variety of settings. This can be seen by the vast array of courses available to us, with my favourites being Game Theory, Financial Risk Analysis and Cryptography & Coding.

However, the most important aspect of this programme is its unique emphasis on preparing you for your next endeavour - be it academic or professional. One example of this is the importance this MSc places on improving our programming capabilities using both Java and Python, which is something that is extremely relevant today.

As academically stimulating as this programme is, my favourite part of this MSc was the people I met. It’s the perfect place to meet like-minded people from a variety of quantitative backgrounds. Being a part of such a diverse group of people, all of whom had such strong analytical and quantitative capabilities, really made this the perfect programme for me.

 

MSc Financial Mathematics


Student Story Ben Auve

Benjamin Auve - MSc Financial Mathematics 2017-18

After having graduated with a double MSc in Engineering and Nuclear Science, I decided to embark upon a career in finance, ultimately becoming a quantitative analyst in an investment bank. Enrolling into LSE’s MSc Financial Mathematics was a great choice, both in terms of career, learning and people I met here.

All the courses I took are excellent and require everyone to push further their own capabilities. I was surprised to see how much professors are willing to give of their time to help students understand anything and even to go further in the discussions.

At LSE, I was surrounded by intelligent and humble people from a range of different backgrounds. It creates an amazing environment in which to learn.

 

MSc Operations Research & Analytics


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Kate Lavrinenko - MSc Operations Research & Analytics 2017-18

Studying this Masters was my third MSc, after studying Applied Mathematics and Economics, four years of experience in Economics and Finance, moving country, two kids, and four years at home with them. It was a challenging experience to find myself among young, inspired and able students from around the world. It also took some time to get used to the pace of study, and to network with people and share skills and knowledge. I needed some psychological help at the start of the journey and I had an opportunity to get it at LSE, which makes me feel grateful. 

I liked that the programme was flexible in what courses you could choose in order to make it fit your personal interests and academic goals. I encourage students to research and think hard about their course choices before starting the programme. Also, it is useful to have an understanding of which direction you wish to head in (e.g. academic or business) so you can utilise LSE’s resources properly. 

I found the careers events to be very valuable in my experience here. For example, I met a member of the Data Science team from Deloitte and after many rounds and following my MA425 Project there in the summer, I found myself with a full time job after finishing the course.

I enjoyed my journey, my job, and my experience with LSE. Whenever I get a new research heavy task, I start dreaming whether I could eventually turn it into a PhD, so my journey is not over.

 

Philipp Loick

Philipp Loick - MSc Operations Research & Analytics 2017-18

Having a background in finance and economics, I aimed for a Masters programme where I could develop mathematical and programming skills to solve industry problems in operations research and data science. Enrolling in the Operations Research and Analytics programme at LSE was the right choice for this goal.

The programme features a diverse student body with the majority of students having majored in mathematics with some engineering and finance students. Even though only a one-year programme, the programme achieved a good balance between theoretical foundations and industry applications and allowed us to study topics such as combinatorial optimization, advanced statistics or algorithmic techniques for data mining.

The high academic level and relevance of the programme is due to the academic staff, who have excellent academic credentials, partially have worked for renowned industry companies and are well connected in the academic community. Graduating from the programme, I had an offer from BCG Gamma, the advanced analytics team of BCG, which I rejected for a PhD in discrete mathematics.

 

Alexander Saftschuk

Alexander Saftschuk - MSc Operations Research & Analytics 2017-18

I came to the LSE with the main goal of improving my quantitative problem-solving skills, and subsequently landing a job in investment banking. The School and societies provided extremely good network opportunities, which really helped to land the job that I aimed at. After only two months at the LSE I landed a job offer with one of the top global investment banks. However, upon finishing the Operations Research & Analytics programme I quickly realised that I would rather pursue a career in data science, and once again the university's reputation opened doors for me last minute. Currently I work as a Data Analyst in the Telenor Digital data science team in Norway. There I code various machine learning algorithms in R, all of which I have all learned during this degree. 

Overall I can say that coming from a non-quantitative, business background I have learned more in this one-year Masters than I did in my entire three years of my bachelor degree. The programme was challenging but manageable. In particular, I highly appreciated how much face time I received from all of my professors, as well as the professor who supervised my thesis. The decision to come to the LSE and studying Operations Research & Analytics was one of the best I have made so far and I can highly recommend LSE and the degree. 

 

MPhil/PhD in Mathematics


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Nóra Frankl - MPhil/PhD Mathematics 2016-present

Nóra currently holds an MSc in Mathematics from Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest; studying for a PhD in Mathematics (G1ZM)

Written in June 2017

What are you currently researching?
I am mostly interested in discrete geometry, which includes combinatorial questions about geometric objects. Sometimes I also think about purely combinatorial questions, for example I am currently working on a question about partitioning edge coloured hypergraphs into monochromatic cycles.

Why did you choose this area of study?
I like combinatorics and geometry, and this area is a mixture of these two.

What do you hope to do career-wise, long term?
I would like to stay in academia and do research.

Can you provide any advice to prospective students about the most effective way to approach research and keep stress levels down?
Of course, this varies from individual to individual and from area to area, but there are some things that can be useful in general. Set realistic expectations: you should not anticipate finding results quickly. It is a slow procedure. For me the recipe is to try to be happy even with small results: don’t let failure disappoint you too greatly. I think it is also good to not separate weekdays and weekends too much; when you have ideas and feel motivated, don't stop for the weekend, but treat yourself to much-needed rest days later.

What resources are available at LSE to help young researchers? 
There are several funds at both School and Departmental level.  Mathematicians need whiteboards – we’re lucky to have many in our PhD office, plus all the basic provisions we could ever need (stationery, printing, equipment, etc.).  Our PhD Office itself is a really good, productive environment to work in, where we can focus solidly on our research but also collaborate and share thoughts. The Department as a whole, alongside the PhD Academy and our Research Manager, assist with the essential practicalities of PhD study.  The Department invites key visitors to present at our seminar series. Crucially, we have a fantastic coffee machine in the Department!

In a few words, what is the best thing about studying at LSE?
Everyone is very nice; I am a valued member of the Department.

 

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Ewan Davies - MPhil/PhD Mathematics 2013-2017

Ewan Davies was a PhD student who joined the Department  under the supervision of Jozef Skokan and Peter Allen. His research interests lie in combinatorics, particularly extremal graph theory and probabilistic combinatorics, as well as the intersection of these areas with other fields such as statistical physics and number theory.  During his time at LSE, amongst many other activities, Ewan contributed extensively to the department, through committees and teaching, was awarded grants to facilitate his research visits and gave many talks around the world.

Written in September 2016

I started my PhD at LSE after spending four years in Cambridge for a combined undergraduate and masters in mathematics. I wanted to retain the freedom and intellectual rigour of university life, but also move to a different city and discover new and exciting aspects of life outside work. A mathematics PhD in London was ideal for this; pure mathematics is a rigorous and highly distilled form of problem solving that I find exceptionally rewarding, and London is a near-limitless trove of opportunities to explore.

My work isn’t tied to a specific title or single unifying idea, I have enjoyed working on a variety of projects which are broadly from the same branch of mathematics, but use different techniques and ideas. This is great for motivation, there’s often something appealing to work on and I’m not pressured to make everything fit some central theme. Recently I’ve been focusing on a new method for optimising the observable properties of certain probability distributions that link combinatorics and statistical physics. With a few simple mathematical tricks I have been answering a variety of questions in combinatorics using ideas from statistical mechanics. I’m essentially analysing the average behaviour of a physical system with the property that any possible state of the system occurs with a probability proportional to its energy. Selecting an interesting system and the right definition of energy yields a variety of mathematical applications and I hope to spend the final year of my PhD trying to develop a general theory based on the early successful examples of the technique.

The atmosphere in the department at LSE is excellent; people are friendly, supportive and approachable. When I joined I was jokingly told, “we might not be the best maths department in the world, but we probably are the friendliest”. This succinctly captures the slightly British sense of humour and light-hearted environment that I’ve enjoyed being a part of. It’s also rather too modest, I frequently work with world-leading academics and feel very positive about the quality of the research I’m able to do here. After my PhD I hope to continue in academia with postdoctoral research, and I feel the high quality of the mathematics department at LSE is extremely beneficial for my goals. 

 

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Barnaby Roberts - MPhil/PhD Mathematics 2013-2017

Barnaby Roberts was a student of the MPhil/PhD in Mathematics who joined the Department under the supervision of Peter Allen and Jozef Skokan.  He successfully completed his studies in September 2017.  His research interests lie in discrete mathematics, particularly Graph Theory. In his fourth, final year, Barnaby wrote this commentary about his time at LSE.

Written in March 2017 

Whilst I enjoyed undergraduate maths I didn’t want to dedicate so much time to maths without doing some of my own research.  Once I decided to pursue a PhD in Graph Theory I decided I wanted to go to a university where there were more than one academic in that area.  LSE was one of just a few such institutions in the UK.  In fact, LSE has a large and very active group of researchers in Graph Theory, Combinatorics and Discrete Mathematics.

I have loved research which, as well as being a good intellectual challenge, is also a surprisingly sociable activity.  Discussing ideas with fellow PhD students and other academics is a really invigorating experience and the atmosphere at LSE makes collaborations really easy to get involved in.  At LSE, my supervisors have been very flexible in allowing me to choose my own projects whilst also offering guidance and suggesting fruitful directions of study.  I have not only worked with other members of LSE but also with various people I have met at conferences and with invited guests who have visited LSE to give a seminar.

There are many aspects to a PhD beyond research.  Presenting work, attending conferences and teaching are all part of it too.  All three of those seemed a little daunting at first but quickly became really enjoyable.  Learning to present work well and similarly to teach maths clearly are both good challenges.  They are also very transferrable skills.  From being at LSE I have attended conferences across the world.  A particular highlight was spending 6 weeks in Brazil working with mathematicians in Rio and Sao Paulo.  This was made possible by funding accessible through LSE.

 You can find out more about our PhD Alumni Destinations here.

 

Want to get involved? Send your story and a picture of yourself to Maths.Info@lse.ac.uk