Building Mathematics

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Let’s talk about the work of a mathematician. When I was young (before highschool), I used to believe that anyone capable of using mathematics is a mathematician. The reason behind this was that being a mathematician was not a job for people like Brahmagupta, Aryabhatta, Fermat, Ramanujan (the names I knew when I was young). So by that definition, even a shopkeeper was a mathematician. And hence I had no interest in becoming a mathematician.

Then, during highschool, I came to know about the mathematics olympiad and was fascinated by the “easy to state but difficult to solve” problems from geometry, combinatorics, arithmetic and algebra (thanks to AMTIVipul Naik and Sai Krishna Deep) . I practiced many problems in hope to appear for the exam once in my life. But that day never came (due to bad education system of my state) and I switched to physics, just because there was lot of hype about how interesting our nature is (thanks to Walter Lewin). 

In senior school I realised that I can’t do physics, I simply don’t like the thought process behind physics (thanks to Feynman). And luckily, around the same time, came to know what mathematicians do (thanks to Uncle Paul). Mathematicians “create new maths”. They may contribute according to their capabilities, but no contribution is negligible. There are two kinds of mathematicians, one who define new objects (I call them problem creators) and others who simplify the existing theories by adding details (I call them problem solvers). You may wonder that while solving a problem one may create bigger maths problems, and vice versa, but I am talking about the general ideologies. What I am trying to express, is similar to what people want to say by telling that logic is a small branch of mathematics (whereas I love maths just for its logical arguments).

A few months before I had to join college (in 2014), I decided to become a mathematician. Hence I joined a research institute (clearly not the best one in my country, but my concern was just to be able to learn as much maths as possible).  Now I am learning lots of advanced (still old) maths (thanks to Sagar SrivastavaJyotiraditya Singh and my teachers) and trying to make a place for myself, to be able to call myself a mathematician some day.

I find all this very funny. When I was young, I used to think that anyone could become a mathematician and there was nothing special about it. But now I everyday have to prove myself to others so that they give me a chance to become a mathematician. Clearly, I am not a genius like all the people I named above (or even close to them) but I still want to create some new maths either in form of a solution to a problem or foundations of new theory and call myself a mathematician. I don’t want it to end up like my maths olympiad dream.

10 responses

  1. Hello, your story is so similar to mine. Now I am in senior year of school and few days ago dropped Physics, I felt disinterested, because I tried 3 times before to really understand it but I never was satisfied with the way it was taught, as a result I am trying now to enhance my mathematical skills and search for the discipline I want to specialize in Maths. Applied Mathematics seems interesting which still I do not know anything about it yet, but I will keep working on myself until I accomplish my aim. Thank you for sharing your story. Sara

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  2. Awsm dude!..u’ve got a great story!… btw i just started a blog on some intuitive phenomenon i have observed in math and science!.. make sure to check it out!.. I need suggestions from you guys to improve the quality and content of my blog!…

    https://cosmicintuitions.wordpress.com/
    Thank you..
    P.S Exploring student (just like u!).

    Like

  3. You don’t have to be a “genius” to be able to do mathematics. There is a lot of room for people like us. Probably there are certain personality traits that can help you in being a researcher and an academic. But in general, my advice is to just keep learning and thinking about new stuff. Good luck!

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  4. Gaurish, like you, many of us find it difficult to align our dreams/aspirations with realities. Yet we have to keep our intentions alive. And strongly believe mathematics has the kindest heart to allow any fellow chap to enter into its premises and discover something for the world. So, your initial impressions of anyone being a mathematician, is probably my take on it. But your constant nurture of ideas will make you stand apart from the plethora of other works in due time.

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  5. My story is worst than yours, i hated maths because of my teachers and programs of education, so i preferd physic before university, but all best universities of physic in my country is very far from my town and i am female, so i must choose to be a teacher of History & geography or Arabic and i chose thr first one, but i still ask my self like you, abou what i want to be exactely, and finally i find cousera, edx, and enroll in maths courses and succes in them even i do not understand English at all dpecially in couse of (introduction to mathematical thinking) &(fun with prime numbers) and after that i hear about terence tao and paul erdos, so i study maths myself, and i am happy now with number theory and thank Allah about all that. I hope my comment shiw my idea hhhh, thank you and you will be from the best mathematicians inchaallah our brother. Good luck

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    • I don’t have words to express my gratitude. My native language is Hindi and I improved my English just to be able to read more Mathematics. You must join this website by Amir Asghari: http://maths4maryams.org it has been set up in the memory of Maryam Mirzakhani. I know that this world is not an ideal place for women but we together can make it a better place (http://www.heforshe.org/en). I know I enjoy privileges of being a man (like traveling wherever I want) but I will make sure to establish the equality of thoughts and respect for women atleast in the people I know. Before joining college, Internet was my best teacher. Now it’s a necessity. Keep trying, one day you will achieve what you wanted to (there is a saying in Hindi that: Since water can cut rocks in mountain, we can achieve our little goals with hardwork and dedication).

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