May 11, 2021
Graduating Class of 2022
How did you decide to become a math major?
When I was seven years old, I watched a television documentary on Albert Einstein, and decided that I wanted to be a theoretical physicist, a passion I followed to college. It was clear that I would need a good grasp of mathematics for this work, and thus intended to complete both majors. The more mathematics I took, the more I wanted this to be a part of my future work. Eventually, I realized that I was more interested in the mathematics I was using in my physics studies than the physical results it gave me, and it was at this point that I decided to pursue a career as a mathematician instead of a as physicist. Now mathematics is my only major, although I still enjoy physics and may still try to work in mathematical physics some day. If I do this, though, it will be because our natural world is inherently beautiful, and thus produces beautiful mathematics.
Favorite math course(s) and why?
MATH 318, the differential topology course I took last term with Prof. Neves, was probably the most exciting mathematics course that I have taken. I've tried to push myself into more advanced coursework with the hopes that someday, the professor will pull back the curtains and finally reveal the deep secrets of life and the universe that I know you all keep hidden in faculty lounge somewhere. In this course, I felt that I actually got some of those. Just by developing some of the basic machinery of differential topology, I was able to answer questions that I might ask myself about the world, questions which didn't just come from a natural probing of definitions which had been introduced in the class, but questions which felt tangible. Seeing Brouwer's Fixed-Point Theorem follow quite simply from properties of the de Rahm cohomology, for instance, was quite rewarding. On the other hand, I would also like to highlight MATH 20250, the course in linear algebra which I took in my first year with a Dr. Boxer, then a postdoc who is now in France I believe. I had studied some linear algebra before in other courses and on my own, and it was not technically required for the track I ended up taking, but I have yet to take another math course which has not made me incredibly grateful that I took that course.
Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major?
In the Winter Quarter of my second year, I attended all of the screenings in a series at Doc Films on the films of Tsai Ming-liang, a filmmaker associated with the "Second Taiwanese New Wave". I noticed at many of the screenings there was a face in the audience that looked familiar. A friend of mine, who is also a math student and movie-lover, later informed me that this was a postdoc in the mathematics department who had taught his analysis class, who also happened to be a fan of Tsai's films. I think this says something about the particularly eclectic intellectual community of the math department.
What are your aspirations?
I hope to be a mathematician.
What are you excited about doing after graduation?
I hope to go onto graduate school, but I will decide next year if it would be best to do something else before this.