## THE INSIDE SCOOP ON A REAL MATHEMATICIAN

*Editors Note: This interview by*

**Michael W. (’15)**is a closer look into the life of a mathematician and the reasons why they love math, their specific studies, how they apply math to other parts of life, and how their studies might connect to high school math.Question & Answer with my brother,

I’m a pure mathematics major and I decided to be one because I really enjoy doing math.

I don’t do it entirely because it’s fun. I find it very rewarding and challenging and it’s often not fun in the slightest. It can also be very fun at times. When presented with a problem, and I don’t know the solution, the process of thinking through and creatively finding that solution – the process of understanding the problem and cleverly using my own ingenuity and creativity, I find that very fun.

I’m taking algebraic structures, which is more commonly known as abstract algebra. Abstract algebra is the theory and explanation behind algebra as a field of study. Some of the problems and questions I’ve been dealing with recently have been proving groups. For example, the set of real numbers for integers, or any other set of elements that you perform operations on, is defined in the class that I’m taking. I study those groups and their properties and extrapolate from there. Any form of algebra that you do in class – adding, dividing, moving elements around, all the processes you’re using -- I’m proving through in my class and studying their properties.

The most interesting course has been combinatorics. The way that I thought about math and the problems we were doing I had never thought about before. It was a completely new approach to a field that I had always liked.

Yes, everything, everything is math. For example, the type of graph theory I did in combinatorics is used extensively in research on big data and things like social networks. Any form of networks or connections that are too big to just look at, you can apply theories of graphs to them.

**Thomas Wakin**, who is a math major at Macalester College.**Q: What is your major and why did you decide this?**I’m a pure mathematics major and I decided to be one because I really enjoy doing math.

**Q: A lot of people find math very complicated and not so fun, do you find it fun, if so why?**I don’t do it entirely because it’s fun. I find it very rewarding and challenging and it’s often not fun in the slightest. It can also be very fun at times. When presented with a problem, and I don’t know the solution, the process of thinking through and creatively finding that solution – the process of understanding the problem and cleverly using my own ingenuity and creativity, I find that very fun.

**Q: What have you studied this semester and how does that apply to a high school pre-Calc math class?**I’m taking algebraic structures, which is more commonly known as abstract algebra. Abstract algebra is the theory and explanation behind algebra as a field of study. Some of the problems and questions I’ve been dealing with recently have been proving groups. For example, the set of real numbers for integers, or any other set of elements that you perform operations on, is defined in the class that I’m taking. I study those groups and their properties and extrapolate from there. Any form of algebra that you do in class – adding, dividing, moving elements around, all the processes you’re using -- I’m proving through in my class and studying their properties.

**Q: What courses have you taking and what have been the most interesting personally?**The most interesting course has been combinatorics. The way that I thought about math and the problems we were doing I had never thought about before. It was a completely new approach to a field that I had always liked.

**Q: Are there any practical applications to your studies?**Yes, everything, everything is math. For example, the type of graph theory I did in combinatorics is used extensively in research on big data and things like social networks. Any form of networks or connections that are too big to just look at, you can apply theories of graphs to them.