DIMACS REU 2020??

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kspeoi
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Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:43 pm

DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by kspeoi » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:31 pm

Hey guys I'm wondering how good is DIMACS at Rutgers in terms of the working environment and how it compares to other REUs say for ex U of Minnesota (Twin cities)? Thank you!

complexcat
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:31 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by complexcat » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:20 pm

My friend went to DIMACS and I think she had a good time! I would highly recommend reaching out to previous participants (you could ask the directors to give you their contact information). I've found this is the best way to get detailed information about certain programs are like. If you can get in contact with one previous participant, hopefully you can get into contact with their friends for more than one perspective. I also recommend having phone conversations with mentors, if you haven't done this already. Some good questions to ask include what their goals are for the project & the team, what skills they think are important for success, and what the day to day life of the program would be. If it's important to you, you can ask if they expect publishable results. Congrats on what sounds like some offers!!

kspeoi
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:43 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by kspeoi » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:59 pm

kspeoi wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:31 pm
Hey guys I'm wondering how good is DIMACS at Rutgers in terms of the working environment and how it compares to other REUs say for ex U of Minnesota (Twin cities)? Thank you!
Hey thanks for the advice! I didn't think of contacting former participants but it would be nice to know their experience :)

complexcat
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:31 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by complexcat » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:34 pm

So this came as a surprise, but I also received an offer from DIMACS this morning! I'm happy to PM!

kspeoi
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:43 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by kspeoi » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:29 pm

complexcat wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:34 pm
So this came as a surprise, but I also received an offer from DIMACS this morning! I'm happy to PM!
Awesome! I have PM'd you :D

apa2021
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:17 am

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by apa2021 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:21 pm

Hey!
I have done two REU's, including DIMACS last year, so maybe I can bring a little insight into this discussion. I think the DIMACS experience was definitely different than my other REU experience. Depending on the project you are working on, you could have a project all to yourself or you could be working in a small group. I was working on a project by myself, which can be a double-edged sword. I liked that I had the freedom to move at my own pace and to explore other aspects the project had to offer, but when you hit a brick wall and don't have someone that you can bounce ideas off of then it can become discouraging at times. DIMACS is also not very "structured" in the sense that any given day you are expected to do research, however if you decide to come in at 8 AM or 1 PM or decide not to work that day at all then that is your prerogative. At my other REU we were working right at 9 AM everyday and had somewhat of a more structured schedule. That being said I had a great time at DIMACS! It's a great REU with lot's of chances for great social interaction in addition to the math (we often played volleyball, had dinner together, or would just play card games at night). I was also fortunate enough to go to Prague as part of the program, so if you were interested in that I could also comment on my experience (which was so awesome that I am planning to visit my Czech friends in March).

kspeoi
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:43 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by kspeoi » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:22 pm

apa2021 wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:21 pm
Hey!
I have done two REU's, including DIMACS last year, so maybe I can bring a little insight into this discussion. I think the DIMACS experience was definitely different than my other REU experience. Depending on the project you are working on, you could have a project all to yourself or you could be working in a small group. I was working on a project by myself, which can be a double-edged sword. I liked that I had the freedom to move at my own pace and to explore other aspects the project had to offer, but when you hit a brick wall and don't have someone that you can bounce ideas off of then it can become discouraging at times. DIMACS is also not very "structured" in the sense that any given day you are expected to do research, however if you decide to come in at 8 AM or 1 PM or decide not to work that day at all then that is your prerogative. At my other REU we were working right at 9 AM everyday and had somewhat of a more structured schedule. That being said I had a great time at DIMACS! It's a great REU with lot's of chances for great social interaction in addition to the math (we often played volleyball, had dinner together, or would just play card games at night). I was also fortunate enough to go to Prague as part of the program, so if you were interested in that I could also comment on my experience (which was so awesome that I am planning to visit my Czech friends in March).
Hello! Which project did you work on? Also, do you think the regular reu benefit you more?

MathParent
Posts: 80
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by MathParent » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:54 am

Question to the more knowledgeable. I sorta asked before, but no one paid attention.
I learned about the word "REU" only on this forum. Somehow , among my friends, what is happening is not REU. I am a scientist, and many of the kids of my friends are going for PhDs in various fields. These college students apply for internships, go do stuff there, publish papers, get to know some people, etc. I was wondering if this approach (i.e., no REUs, but internships instead) is so rare that no one talks about it? Everyone does REUs?

complexcat
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:31 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by complexcat » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:19 pm

MathParent wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:54 am
Question to the more knowledgeable. I sorta asked before, but no one paid attention.
I learned about the word "REU" only on this forum. Somehow , among my friends, what is happening is not REU. I am a scientist, and many of the kids of my friends are going for PhDs in various fields. These college students apply for internships, go do stuff there, publish papers, get to know some people, etc. I was wondering if this approach (i.e., no REUs, but internships instead) is so rare that no one talks about it? Everyone does REUs?
Hi! My understanding is that unlike in other scientific fields, where there are labs hosted by private organizations and government agencies, math research tends to be mostly supported in academic settings, i.e. at colleges and universities. (There are some notable exceptions such as at the NSA and other defense agencies. For students, see the NSA Director's Summer Program. Doing research at the NSA seems controversial among mathematicians, and one major downside is that you cannot discuss or publish your work outside the agency. As a closely related exception though, I've met a number theorist who does research at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton. His work was not classified.)

Since REU programs are hosted by colleges and universities, this is why they are attractive to students who want to do math research, especially in pure math. Internships (for example, at national labs) may be more attractive to students who want to learn applied math skills, but I don't have a lot of knowledge in that area. I would recommend doing such an internship even to early career undergrads who want to do pure math research, since coding skills are transferable to almost every research area.

One important note is that one purpose of the REU program is to increase the representation and retention of diverse people in scientific careers. Another purpose is to provide the necessary training for these careers. This means, shortly, that demonstrating the potential to succeed in research is essential for receiving an REU opportunity, but research experience is not. It also means that you could be a white male student with lots of potential or experience, but you may not receive any opportunities. There is a wide spectrum of REU programs that serve students based on this spectrum of "potential" to "very experienced." Besides REU programs, it is popular to do research at the host institution, supported by a grant at the host institution. I'm happy to provide more detailed information on how to identify an REU program that is a good fit.

fluffball
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2019 4:06 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by fluffball » Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:34 pm

MathParent wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:54 am
Question to the more knowledgeable. I sorta asked before, but no one paid attention.
I learned about the word "REU" only on this forum. Somehow , among my friends, what is happening is not REU. I am a scientist, and many of the kids of my friends are going for PhDs in various fields. These college students apply for internships, go do stuff there, publish papers, get to know some people, etc. I was wondering if this approach (i.e., no REUs, but internships instead) is so rare that no one talks about it? Everyone does REUs?
No, not everyone does REUs. In pure math, at least, they are rarely considered to be worthwhile "research experience" for grad applications. But they can be useful for exposure and maybe a higher-prestige rec. This is especially true for students who aren't at major research universities, who are first-gen or URM, etc. I've never heard of internships in pure mathematics.

MathParent
Posts: 80
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by MathParent » Thu Feb 20, 2020 10:19 am

fluffball wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:34 pm
MathParent wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:54 am
Question to the more knowledgeable. I sorta asked before, but no one paid attention.
I learned about the word "REU" only on this forum. Somehow , among my friends, what is happening is not REU. I am a scientist, and many of the kids of my friends are going for PhDs in various fields. These college students apply for internships, go do stuff there, publish papers, get to know some people, etc. I was wondering if this approach (i.e., no REUs, but internships instead) is so rare that no one talks about it? Everyone does REUs?
No, not everyone does REUs. In pure math, at least, they are rarely considered to be worthwhile "research experience" for grad applications. But they can be useful for exposure and maybe a higher-prestige rec. This is especially true for students who aren't at major research universities, who are first-gen or URM, etc. I've never heard of internships in pure mathematics.
Internships in pure mathematics may be masquerading as something else. For example, at a huge defense contractor where I work (I am a Senior Principal Research Scientist - II), we do not take people without PhDs to have a "researcher" title. They all, including interns, are coming through Software Organization. Then they are assigned to projects. If the kid was coming as a mathematician, he/she knows that, the program leaders know that, and the program does have the theoretical math part in it. If it doesn't - the kid wouldn't have applied, so yes, information is the key. Yes, it is probably rare, but not as rare as one might think. It is just the information about it is not in the open, I guess.

MathParent
Posts: 80
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by MathParent » Thu Feb 20, 2020 10:23 am

complexcat wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:19 pm
MathParent wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:54 am
Question to the more knowledgeable. I sorta asked before, but no one paid attention.
I learned about the word "REU" only on this forum. Somehow , among my friends, what is happening is not REU. I am a scientist, and many of the kids of my friends are going for PhDs in various fields. These college students apply for internships, go do stuff there, publish papers, get to know some people, etc. I was wondering if this approach (i.e., no REUs, but internships instead) is so rare that no one talks about it? Everyone does REUs?
Hi! My understanding is that unlike in other scientific fields, where there are labs hosted by private organizations and government agencies, math research tends to be mostly supported in academic settings, i.e. at colleges and universities. (There are some notable exceptions such as at the NSA and other defense agencies. For students, see the NSA Director's Summer Program. Doing research at the NSA seems controversial among mathematicians, and one major downside is that you cannot discuss or publish your work outside the agency. As a closely related exception though, I've met a number theorist who does research at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton. His work was not classified.)

Since REU programs are hosted by colleges and universities, this is why they are attractive to students who want to do math research, especially in pure math. Internships (for example, at national labs) may be more attractive to students who want to learn applied math skills, but I don't have a lot of knowledge in that area. I would recommend doing such an internship even to early career undergrads who want to do pure math research, since coding skills are transferable to almost every research area.

One important note is that one purpose of the REU program is to increase the representation and retention of diverse people in scientific careers. Another purpose is to provide the necessary training for these careers. This means, shortly, that demonstrating the potential to succeed in research is essential for receiving an REU opportunity, but research experience is not. It also means that you could be a white male student with lots of potential or experience, but you may not receive any opportunities. There is a wide spectrum of REU programs that serve students based on this spectrum of "potential" to "very experienced." Besides REU programs, it is popular to do research at the host institution, supported by a grant at the host institution. I'm happy to provide more detailed information on how to identify an REU program that is a good fit.

Thank you. There are not only government labs. There are also government contractors who perform work for the labs and other government entities. These places are HUGE. The contract's content varies, the contracts are different by size and importance, etc.
I also know for a fact that not all publications are prohibited at the labs and at contractors. Not all work is classified, especially theoretical pieces.
In general, I am encouraging people to seek those opportunities, I am sure they exist, but you have to dig.

complexcat
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:31 pm

Re: DIMACS REU 2020??

Post by complexcat » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:18 pm

Hey everyone, so I'm hearing great things about the DIMACS REU from a previous participant! One thing that's broadly applicable is that the social environment is good and the housing situation is nice. It will depend on your project, but the mentors seem awesome.



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