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Fall 2023 Statistics/Operations Research PhD profile evaluation


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Hi everyone, I am looking for some advice on programs to apply to. Would really appreciate any advice! 

Type of student: International Asian Male from Australia

Major: Mathematics/Statistics

Interests: probability theory, stochastic analysis, applied probability, theoretical statistics, optimization

Institution: I went to two schools in undergrad and another one for my Honours year (basically a half research and half coursework year, but still considered undergrad), all were top 5 Australian universities

GPA: 4.00/4.00

GRE: haven't taken and not sure if I will given that it's optional for most schools and I couldn't find any test centre for the subject test in Aus

Awards: some award for top 5% GPA, summer research scholarship, $6,000 scholarship for Honours, $20,000 scholarship from my institution to graduates going overseas for study (this is for Part III at Cambridge but I don't think I'll be attending due to some health issues I'm having right now that should hopefully resolve soon)

Relevant coursework: I have done two courses in Stochastic Analysis (went into some pretty advanced stuff like Malliavin's calculus, fractal properties of Brownian motion, and some connections with harmonic analysis), two courses in Functional Analysis, Commutative Algebra, Probability and Martingale theory, Measure Theory and Hilbert Spaces (following Stein and Shakarchi), Advanced Probability & Stochastic Processes (measure theory, probability theory, Brownian motion), Stochastic Processes, Randomized Numerical Algorithms (randomized numerical linear algebra and stochastic optimization), Continuous Optimization, Metric and Topological Spaces, Multivariable Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, Mathematical Statistics, Statistical Learning, Number Theory and Cryptography, Galois Theory, Discrete Math (enumerative combinatorics and some topology stuff), Group Theory and Abstract Linear Algebra + the usual calculus and linear algebra sequences that every math/engineering major takes. On the CS side I did a course on algorithms and data structures, an intro to machine learning course, OOP, and systems programming. Received a High Distinction (the highest grade, so I guess equivalent to A or A+) in every course except an Ungraded Pass in Galois theory and one of the functional analysis courses (hope this won't hurt my application but they were during 2020 and I was doing 8 courses per semester at that time). 

Research experience: Did my Honours project in stochastic analysis with some original results + summer research in numerical optimization (also got some original result but probably nothing groundbreaking)

Other experience: TA'd for a second year course on calculus, differential equations and linear algebra

Letters of recommendation: I am genuinely quite concerned about this part since I haven't really made an effort to connect with professors (I want to blame it on COVID but I can't really... I'm just a bit introverted and didn't quite realise how important it was until it's too late). So far I have one from my Honours thesis advisor (which should be strong, and he's also quite well known in stochastic analysis) and another one from my summer research advisor. I am struggling to find a third letter writer. The best I can get is probably one from my stochastic processes professor whose class I did well in, but I am not sure how much one of these letters would help. They did write me one of the letters for my Cambridge Part III application but from what I could tell the letter was pretty much just a statement of my performance in his class (I am quite sure I topped the class out of ~100 students). 

Thoughts: I think my mathematical background is not bad for statistics and OR programs, but I'm definitely concerned about not having three strong letters. I would really appreciate if anyone has any thoughts on programs that would suit my profile, as well as my chances at top programs like MIT ORC, UC Berkeley statistics and Princeton ORFE. 

Edited by tt022
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Just a fellow applicant here, but your math background is what dreams are made of (seriously, I'm jealous). I am sure you have a great shot at all those schools you listed and will almost surely get into one. Also, I don't think not having a super strong third letter of recommendation will diminish your already stellar profile. Big congratulations. :)

Edited by dirichletprior
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