I have to compute small mathematical problems for my work. My main work is to develop and solve these problems analytically. I then have to compute these problems in mathematica, but this is not my main task.

I am not unwilling to do this, but I think I could save time by outsourcing it to someone with more technical experience in e.g. Mathematica.

For example, here is a typical mathematical problem that I would want to outsource. I'd like to write the problem in Latex, outsource it to a freelance coder, and get back the result.

However, my first attempts to do this on freelancer.com have derailed mainly due to communication. Those freelancers were not native-English speakers.

So I am wondering if you have some tips on how to outsource this kind of small project to a freelancer online. i.e. on how to communicate most effectively so that the process is as smooth as possible, and requires as little unnecessary effort or problems as possible.

(I am thinking mostly of 5$ to 50$ projects. This seems to be normal on fiverr.com/freelancer.com, but I'm not sure if it can provide quality. But it might, since this type of assignment is quite small).

  • 1
    5$ to 50$ Peanuts, the best you can hope for is monkeys. Be serious, anyone who can knock out that kind of Mathematica program rapidly and to any kind of quality will be looking for $500+/day. – High Performance Mark Jan 13 '18 at 12:53
  • just googling to see how much a mathematica dev earns and found this : hire.codementor.io says $60-$100 per hour but might be a good solution for you if you have lots of work – Ewan Jan 13 '18 at 12:57

I'd like to write the problem in Latex, outsource it to a freelance coder, and get back the result.

Mathematical programming problems can be written down very precisely and unambigously using mathematical terms, formulas and symbols. That is quite an advantage over the typical business software project, where people often don't know what they want, and use standard english language to describe their requirements in fuzzy ways. The example you linked to shows this well: for a mathematician, those formulas describe the task to be done very clearly.

For outsourcing, this is definitely a good start - assumed you are a trained mathematical writer, you can give a precise, written problem description to someone else. Assumed you are able to describe your specific task in a similar quality as it was done in that example, I am pretty sure that describing your requirements in a precise manner is not the problem you need to solve.

However, to read and understand such a mathematic problem description correctly, one needs a trained expert as well. And in your case, you also want an expert who has experience in programming with mathematica. So you are looking for a highly qualified specialist, with good communication skills - and he should also be cheap. These are quite opposing goals - and that is your main problem.

At places like freelancer.com, you get what you pay for. There are thousands of beginners which lack the necessary expertise, often from low wages countries, trying to make some money and bid for ridiculously low prices, but the experts for your domain are there as rare as elsewhere. So the best recommendation I can give you here is, either

  • start looking at other places (math students from a nearby university might be an idea?)

  • invest more time to filter out the low quality responses from freelancers all over the world, and if you are lucky, you find one specialist who can help you after some weeks or months

  • and expect to pay more than 50$ per project - specialists typically have higher wages/hour, at least at the place where I live. You don't pay them only for the time their invest to solve your task, but also for the years they invested to learn the stuff which is necessary to be able to solve such kind of tasks.

As a final note, don't be astonished when the time and effort you need to invest to find a reliable external freelancer, and the effort you need to invest into the quality assurance of his results, may exceed the time you would have needed to solve those problems by yourself or a a colleague of your at your company.

  • Thank you for the response. You have convinced me that I will likely need to pay more per project. Do you think there is a website that provides better quality freelancers (in mathematica), than freelancer.com? Or do you think it is not realistic to expect to find them on the internet? – user152497 Jan 13 '18 at 15:22
  • @user152497: honestly, I don't know if any of those freelancer sites can help you, but I am not very optimistic. Maybe it is just a matter of time how long you search, but I would recommend to try different channels in parallel. Maybe you can establish some university contacts? Mathematica licenses itself are an order of magnitude cheaper for students than for industrial professionals, so that's already a base for getting someone less expensive. – Doc Brown Jan 13 '18 at 17:05

I think you may find the the process of specifying, outsourcing and testing the results you get back takes far more time than writing the code yourself.

Even if we assume that the maths part of the problem can be and already is as part of your current process, perfectly and unambiguously specified. You example problem has further specifications:

  • neat code
  • generate arbitrary number of graphs
  • easy change range and domain of graphs

It's interesting to note that even with your latex spec and working code the first thing that answer says is "I dont have enough time".

If you check the edit history you can see that Henrik has written the answer over the period of about an hour. Which would have earn't him at least $60 if you had hired him as a freelancer on hire.codementor.io, already more than your top end budget and this is just for some performance tuning tips

Edit --

I think the main problem though is that people with your required skill set have well paid full time jobs. Is piecemeal work coding up mathematica problems common enough that someone can have enough clients to make a living from it?

  • I have upvoted, but users with low reputation don't get their upvotes publicized. Thank you for the response. Do you agree with Doc Brown that my specification of what I need was clear? – user152497 Jan 13 '18 at 15:24
  • I don't understand the maths, so it wasn't clear to me. My point is more about the ancillary requirements. How 'easy' does the graph changing need to be for example. You could spend a week going back and forth on UI options alone if you are picky – Ewan Jan 13 '18 at 15:27
  • And yes, I think you are right I will likely have to pay more. I am considering doing this. Also, I've checked the website "hire.codementor.io". "mathematica" is not listed there as a language. Do you maybe know of a website such as "hire.codementor.io", that also works with mathematica? – user152497 Jan 13 '18 at 15:30
  • Right. Hmm. This seems to me like something that someone with experience can do very quickly. But maybe I'm underestimating the communication problem. – user152497 Jan 13 '18 at 15:31
  • I found some codementor.io/wolfram-mathematica-developers – Ewan Jan 13 '18 at 15:31

If you want to do this in more crowd source manner, you might consider posting them on a web site like project euler (https:projecteuler.net). Or as problems to code challenge web site.

you would find out very quickly who is up to the challenge of doing the work. It make take some initial time to weed through all of the soultions to find a good answer. And if there is someone who consistenly provides reasonable answeres, offer to pay him/her as a consultant.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.