When You Meet a Mathematical Genius

how not to be wrong

“Athletes don’t quit their sport just because one of their teammates outshines them. And yet I see promising young mathematicians quit every year, even though they love mathematics, because someone in their range of vision was ahead of them.”

[How not to be wrong, Jordan Ellenberg]

I know this is a little bit off the topic (and the style) of this blog but I would like to write this post for kids/students who want to be a future mathematician. In my life, I have met several mathematical geniuses equipped with complete mathematical skill sets, intuition, reasoning, and creativity. Many people may think that geniuses are not willing to work hard but all the geniuses I met before put their whole energy into solving some mathematical problems always. Hence, when I had met them, I had felt that there is NO chance to defeat such kinds of geniuses and had felt depressed every single day. Many prodigious kids/students give up chasing their dream to become a great mathematician like this way.

However, doing mathematics is not a race and competition to choose the only one winner. It is more like team sports. For example, in Football, the Quarterback looks like the one and only hero to win the game but it is not true. There are many unsung heroes to try to get a score and win the game. Likewise, the development of mathematics is not the exclusive property of the math geniuses. I don’t want to underestimate the role of math geniuses; they always give us a new point of view about mathematical thinking. But rather, I would like to redound to many roles of other mathematicians such as building rigorous mathematical formulation from brilliant ideas and applying this mathematical concept to various problems in the real world. Hence, “Genius” may represent not a person but a team (or generation).

So, here is my humble advice when you meet mathematical geniuses in your life:
(1) Do not compare yourself to them (everybody has an important role in developing mathematics).
(2) Learn everything from them as much as you can.
(3) Put your whole energy into developing, extending, and applying their brilliant idea.
(4) Do not give up.
(5) Be grateful for being contemporaneous with the great geniuses.

2 thoughts on “When You Meet a Mathematical Genius”

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