Cian Synnott

Systems Administrator
BA Mathematics

Current Status

Linux/UNIX Systems Administrator. I have worked as part of's Computer Incident Response Team
and with Google's Systems Operations and Site Reliability Engineering teams.

Why did you study Mathematics at University?

I started by studying computer science, but found the mathematics courses to be the most challenging and interesting among those I was taking. I was able to transfer to the B.A. mathematics course after my first year.

Describe what you do now and how mathematics is useful to you.

I'm a systems administrator working with large-scale distributed Linux systems. This involves a mixture of design, engineering and troubleshooting expertise. My mathematics background is immediately useful in system capacity planning and estimation; understanding and using the output of automated monitoring applications to improve or optimize software; and providing hard data to back up suggested changes or prove their effectiveness after implementation. Generally and more importantly the methodical and detail-oriented way in which I have been taught to approach problems serves me well every day.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of doing a degree in Mathematics?

Take the plunge! I found it an immensely interesting and rewarding field of study. Don't become too attached to any particular area of mathematics in your undergraduate degree - try to become equally familiar with all of the areas you come across. I regret not spending more time and energy on statistics, for example.

Would you recommend that people study Maths in Maynooth?

Absolutely. I owe my interest in mathematics to the members of Maynooth's maths department who taught me during my first year. After transferring to full time mathematics study, I found the department a great place to grow and learn. There is an admirable focus on effective teaching, and the staff research interests represent a varied cross-section of modern mathematics.