Mathematics Personal Statement

The ability of mathematicians to understand a problem by reducing it to its key components fascinates me. Using nothing more than logic and intuition, they cut complex problems down to simple steps; they convey concepts so convoluted they would be illegible without the language of mathematics.

Mathematics appeals to my scientific and creative nature, as it is capable of making sense of the abstract while remaining applicable to the real world. Although problem solving arises in a number of fields, I feel only mathematics is able to generalise a solution, and indeed, prove that solution is true. This pursuit of absolute proof for a solution drives me to read mathematics.

As my studies developed so did my appreciation for the breadth and depth of this course. Until A-level, I had little comprehension of its diversity. Mechanics first showed me a concrete link between mathematics and physics, sparking my interest in the connections between mathematics and more physical fields.

This led me to read ‘A Brief History of Time’ in order to explore how mathematics can be used to describe complex physical relationships. The concept of 4D space-time light cones captivated me, and led me to discover an interest in topology and non-Euclidean geometry.

I watched a series of online videos on topology, which outlined basic concepts; now, the possibility and challenge presented by geometry of higher dimensions is an area of continued intrigue for me.

‘Maths 1001’ by Richard Elwes allowed me to explore the breadth of maths even further, while ‘Infinitesimal’ by Amir Alexander helped me to realise the historical significance of mathematics. Beyond simply reading around the subject, my curiosity led me to self-teach the decision modules this summer, while engaging with higher-level maths via STEP questions.

Wanting to explore the subject in more depth, I attended lectures ran by Maths Inspiration and Think Physics, as well as exploring some online series; recently engaging with Big Data and Game Theory.

While attending university and departmental open days, I was able to experience some additional lectures; I also attended a mathematics masterclass which introduced some topics I am interested in studying further, such as modular arithmetic.

Taking inspiration from these experiences, I founded a school Mathematics Society to explore topics that would not appear on our curriculum - from discussion on infinities that centred on Hilbert and Cantor's work, to a lecture I gave discussing topological concepts!

My other A Level subjects allowed me to continue to consider the links between mathematics and other fields of study. Physics obviously has links in areas such as mechanics and quantum physics. I noticed similar connections in chemistry; statistics plays a large part in modelling within the subject.

I was particularly interested by this use of statistical models such as the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. These subjects allowed me to develop skills that are key to reading mathematics, such as problem solving and data analysis. General Studies, and my history-based EPQ, also helped me develop research and communication skills, which will be vital at university.

Beyond academia, I am a long-standing member of a local performing arts academy, and I am involved with theatre in school; I have performed in multiple shows and school musicals, and will be leading the House Drama competition this year.

Leadership is another quality I have been developing; as a member of school council and head of Pupil Voice, and a prefect in my fifth year, and as a recently appointed School Vice Captain. Taking on these roles requires coordination; organisation therefore remains one of my key skills. My other interests include reading, alternate history and debating.

I am eager to study at a higher level to develop a greater understanding of the intricacies of mathematics. Only then will I be able to achieve the understanding of problem solving which I admire.

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Author's Comments

This was my personal statement for Mathematics which I applied with in 2016. I received offers from Queens University Belfast, St Andrews, Durham University, University of Warwick and Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge.

Took me a long time to write but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

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