I have completed a Master's in Pure Mathematics. I have read topics like Abstract Algebra, Linear Algebra, Functional Analysis, Topology, Cryptography, Course in C++, etc.

Recently I found an advertisement hiring for the post of Junior Research fellow in Mathematics (advertised as Mathematics/Applied Mathematics) in the Space Applications Center.

As I wanted to see how pure mathematics can be used in space I applied to that post.

Now they have selected me for an interview on the basis of my academic qualifications, my awards and fellowships.

I feel confused. My questions are as follows:

  • What to expect in an interview for the Space Application Center for the posts of JRF in Mathematics?
  • What are the things a student of Pure Mathematics can bring to them to get a chance to work in the Space Application Center?
  • What are the topics that can be useful?

I know there are many who are working as space scientists on this site.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What is the Space Application Center? $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2018 at 16:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble It's part of ISRO, the Indian space agency. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Jul 24, 2018 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Learnmore, what resources has SAC provided you? $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Jul 24, 2018 at 16:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Brush up on your dynamics, and anything that could be used for advanced signals processing, or hydrodynamics. Here's some "space-math": 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 for some ISRO-specific dynamics. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 24, 2018 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh - Seems like there is enough there for a full answer $\endgroup$
    – antlersoft
    Jul 24, 2018 at 16:39

2 Answers 2


Discaimer: I’m a mathematician in the aerospace industry, but my job title is engineer, not mathematician.

A lot of the “space math” that i’ve run across has been in the field of ordinary differential equations (e.g. orbital mechanics, kepler’s equations, n-body problem, etc.), but also some partial differential equations (hydrodynamics, radiation transport, heat transfer, aerodynamics, finite element methods, etc.), optimization (nonlinear programming, optimal control, etc.), linear algebra (solutions of linear systems, fourier/modal analysis), probability theory (e.g. kalman filtering for linear quadratic estimation) and numerical analysis (error estimation).

One thing I could potentially see a pure mathematician doing is developing highly accurate solutions for certain dynamical systems (e.g. orbit propagation and precision timing/navigation) using semi-analytical methods.

It may not be what they are looking for specifically, but i have a hunch that they want someone who is already well versed in applied mathematics, and less so in pure math.

I could be wrong, but my assertion is based only on what i personally have seen. Perhaps they have complicated algebraic topology problems or a group theory problem involving string theory. I kind of doubt it, only because of the highly theoretical nature of these math topics and the very applied nature of the aerospace industry.

To get a feel for some of the basics of spaceflight mathematics particularly, I recommend reading Curtis’s book “Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students”.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer;Can you tell me how should I prepare for the interview $\endgroup$
    – user26637
    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ Also are you also from Pure Mathematics background $\endgroup$
    – user26637
    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Learnmore: No, i’m a computational and applied mathematician. As far as interviews go, just have fun and ask lots of questions. Demonstrating genuine interest in the problems that they are working on and inprovising/postulating potential solutions to those problems on the spot is probably the best way to impress them. $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ do you mind if i ask what you are doing?What are the questions they asked u? $\endgroup$
    – user26637
    Jul 25, 2018 at 4:11

Interviews are a crap shoot. And the ones where everyone on the team gets a chance to interview you are the bottom of the heap. Getting invited means you are somewhere in the range someone has decided you will fit, or they must interview n people and you are the last.

My advice is to ask questions about their work and tools and goals. Don't bring up the hours or days off or perks. You can ask some current topical questions like, are they using the new very fast and multi-core savey Intel Python3.6 with Jupyter Notebook and Tensorflow and all that. Or, is anyone looking into using Clifford Alegebras and geometric calculus for dynamics and spacial relations? (It just might eliminate a great mass of matrix algebra during computation.)

Use an open posture, even if you feel like hunching over and folding your arms or crossing your legs. Don't put interviewers on the spot with questions they might not be able to answer, or name-drop or one-up.

That should do it. You are a shoe-in shoo-in. And avoid cliche's.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you been in this sort of interview before where you cant even take any preparations? How did you deal with it $\endgroup$
    – user26637
    Jul 25, 2018 at 7:13

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