Ramya Sriram explains the benefits of hiring a freelance mathematician
Remember that scene from Friends where Ross tries to get his new sofa up a stairwell?
Ross resorted to cutting it in half but, if he had consulted a mathematician, he could have had it in his apartment in one piece. While some companies have entire teams of mathematicians in-house, not everyone can afford to do this. What are the options for small businesses?
Mathematics forms the basis of many disciplines that are currently used in industries worldwide – engineering, data science and study design are just a few examples.
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can access the mathematical skills they need by working with freelance mathematician.
However, the role of a mathematician varies depending on their field of work and whether they fall into the theoretical or applied class.
You can hire an expert in theoretical mathematics to explore new areas and relationships of mathematical theories, while you can recruit an applied mathematician to solve real life practical problems.
To get his sofa up the stairs, Ross would’ve needed the latter to apply Pythagoras’ theorem to the estimated measurements of his sofa in a vertical position and the dimensions of the stairwell.
Spareroom.co.uk, with the help of Cow PR, hired a mathematician on Kolabtree to do exactly that and it turns out that tilt, rather than pivot, would have been the secret to success.
Beyond sofas, you could also hire an applied expert to test the performance of cars or if your pharmaceutical company wanted to design a detailed clinical trial.
Before choosing who to hire, it is important that you identify their skillset and determine whether they will be able to help you with the specific business problem you are working on.
Mathematicians have a well-honed set of problem-solving skills including the ability to deal with abstract concepts and to conduct experimental studies.
A big part of their remit is identifying relationships and patterns as well as creating models to resolve practical problems in fields ranging from business and science to engineering.
The nature of mathematical research requires trying multiple approaches and it is this resilience that teaches them to remain focused and to think critically when looking for solutions.
There are times when you may want to analyse distinct patterns and combinations to solve puzzles. Freelance mathematicians can help with this too. A team of Swiss data scientists used mathematical techniques to systematically unlock the musical signatures and patterns behind Beethoven’s string quartets.
The analysis found that certain chords were more common than others and that it could pinpoint specific aspects that make up Beethoven’s style. This type of analysis is not limited to Beethoven — mathematicians can apply statistical methods to other puzzles that require an expert’s opinion.
As well as problem-solving, mathematicians can help a business or research institute to verify and validate data to check that it is correct, useful and there are no inconsistencies.
If you need to eliminate uncertainty and the possibility for error, a freelance mathematician can review and verify your data, checking things like the statistical power, to ensure it is robust.
For example, before submitting research to a journal, a mathematician could check the methodology used was correct and analyse and verify the data.
Cheaper and easier to recruit
While the benefits of hiring a mathematician are clear, taking one on as part of an in-house team can be expensive. According to Prospects, in the UK, the average salary of an experienced mathematical research scientist ranges from £30,000 to over £50,000.
If you are a small business or start-up organisation, you may not have the capacity to hire someone full time. If you hire a freelance mathematician, you can save this cost, and the process of recruitment becomes more flexible as mathematicians are brought in as and when needed rather than being contracted long-term.
You are also able to recruit the perfect candidate, someone who has published papers in the field you are working in, as you are not limited by geography.
A freelance mathematician can help you with an issue in your time of need, just like they could have helped Ross manoeuvre his sofa.
Ramya Sriram is digital content manager for Kolabtree.