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Math Has Your #

Best Idea

More and more of the economy is falling into the world of numbers. As we live greater parts of our lives online—working, playing, socializing, and shopping—we’re becoming one giant archive. We feed networks slews of digital data that once would have languished on paper or disappeared into the ether. All these bits of information sit in databases, many of them in the public domain. From a business point of view, all that information is just begging to be sliced and diced and turned into new businesses, industries, and marketing opportunities. It’s not just Wall Street and Silicon Valley where math rules anymore. These days industries from food and beverages to advertising to intelligence agencies are leaning more and more heavily on mathematicians. California consultant Enologix is using algorithms to mimic the chemistry of wines ranked highly by critic Robert Parker. Online advertisers are using math to optimize the efficiency of campaigns. And the National Security Agency uses quantitative means to find patterns in phone and Net traffic to identify potential terrorist threats. The math geeks aren’t holed up in the back office, anymore. They’re playing increasingly important roles in corporations—and being highly rewarded.

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