Mathematics Personal Statement
I have always loved mathematics, but it was five years ago that I truly became hooked. I had been invited to attend a series of ‘mathematics masterclasses’ organised by The Royal Institution.
Having only previously been exposed to simple algebra and geometry, the way maths was used in topics like topology, infinity and chaos absolutely fascinated me, and transformed my perspective on what mathematics makes possible.
I had previously tried to play down my enthusiasm for the subject, but after seeing that the lecturers felt and were proud of that same enthusiasm, I was instead inspired to embrace it, and have enjoyed every second since. Working in a like-minded community of dedicated mathematicians has become my ambition.
My EPQ was, I believe, the first attempt to mathematically define and measure the ‘flow’ of fiction writing. Carrying out the project led me to read papers that used maths in amazing ways, like finding the ‘average lattice constant’ of a body of text. I was able to achieve the project’s goal, and on top of that develop an algorithm which improves the flow of a given work of fiction.
The intricate, simple diversity of maths is astonishing and I believe that some insight into any question can be gleaned through maths.
In my spare time I enjoy working on deeper maths questions, such as those on STEP. I received a copy of ‘God Created the Integers’, a compilation of various historic mathematical works, for my most recent birthday and often test myself by trying to prove a result in the early chapters without first reading the given proof.
I have succeeded in working through Euclid’s first, fifth and seventh books, as well as Diophantus’ narrow-margined second and third books. Euclid’s revolutionary proofs and Diophantus’ ingenious methods are radically different from those learnt A-level maths, and their attitudes to problem solving have helped me see some A-level problems in a completely different light.
I tutor three high school students in mathematics, including one girl whose maths grades have risen over the last year from typically Ds to typically As, and who is now considering taking the subject at A-level.
I love teaching younger students not only because of the joy you see when a once unreachable idea is first understood, but also the challenge that comes with explaining unfamiliar ideas.
I find techniques taught in school are normally more means-to-ends than true problem solving (e.g. blind use of the quadratic formula) and by focussing more on creative thinking than technique I both equip my students with stronger problem solving skills and deepen my own understanding of sometimes deceptively simple questions.
Communication is a vital skill for any mathematician. Since the age of five I have been developing technical verbal skills in ‘Speech and Drama’, obtaining twelve distinctions in related qualifications; I am currently preparing for my LAMDA grade eight communication certificate.
Over the past two years I have been writing a philosophy-through-metaphor novel in an attempt to improve my written communication skills. The work-in-progress has been read over 7000 times.
I was delighted to win the ‘Ogden Trust Schools Physicist of the Year’ award last summer at the Open University. Although I do enjoy studying physics the most interesting part, for me, is the mathematics which describes that physics.
I’ve only begun to get acquainted with so many areas of maths, and there are infinitely more to discover. I cannot wait to embark on the next chapter of my mathematical learning.
There is no profile associated with this personal statement, as the writer has requested to remain anonymous.
Stay on topic, don't over or under-play things you've done, be positive.
(Accepted by Trinity College Cambridge after an interview, Durham, Warwick, Bath and Nottingham.)
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