A short discussion yesterday with some faculty staffs revealed some pretty scary beliefs among the students. There have been some reflections about the analytic courses being too boring because we have not reached the advance analytic where real life problem are being solved. This is something very unusual given that everyone understand the concept of basics and fundamentals coming before advance.

One of the most common misguided belief of student about analytic is that if you have good mathematics foundation, you will do well in analytic. This is both a yes and no. Strong mathematics foundation allow one to progress faster in the mathematical modeling section but it does not mean that you will be good in analytic. Analytic also includes non mathematical theories which strong mathematics does not add as an advantage. One example is the psychological aspect of marketing. If you are trying to sell me something, it is usually a number game – the cheaper the better. However, when the goods reached a certain price level, it is the lifestyle concept which the product is trying to sell – not the product. At this stage, psychological factors are strongly correlated with the choices of the consumer which are very difficult to model into a mathematical form. Illogical choices are possible because of the perception distortion of reality. Again, illogical choices are extremely difficult to model.

A very dangerous argument put forth by some students is that one does not need to understand the business to model it. This is as good as not needing to understand mathematics to do mathematics. Business knowledge are critical because they are the language in which the people working in the field will be using and thus familiarity will facilitate both work and advancement. At the same time, familiarity with the field allows one to identify any unusual happenings or if something deserves a deeper analysis.

Someone might quip that analytic is just about mathematics. It is far more than just mathematics. It combines psychology, statistics, mathematics, economics, marketing, computer science, engineering as well as business and operation management.

Good foundation is key to a well rounded analyst. Sometimes school modules might be cramping too much material for the students to digest, but one has to realize that sufficient breadth and depth has to be achieved in order for the student to be able to do analytic well enough for their future jobs. Jumping straight into analytic without foundation is sucidal and foolhardy. A damaged reputation makes one difficult to work in the field anymore. Thus competency has to be achieved in order for the student to be comfortable in his line of work.