Emil takes on Mathematics Summer School challenges

Congratulations to IGS student Emil who was recently selected to participate in the 52nd National Mathematics Summer School in Melbourne.

The event took place from 11 to 18 January and involved lectures in the topics of Number Theory, Algorithms as well as tutorials and private study.

Emil said it was a wonderful experience to be with a group of people who all share a common interest in Mathematics.

“The teaching style was very unique in that rather than being taught how to solve specific problems relating to the topic, we were given a wide variety of very challenging problems relating to the lectures that we hadn’t been taught how to solve, and we were left to find solutions ourselves,” Emil said.

“This put a strong emphasis on personal exploration, which is a very important part of learning mathematics.”

When asked what he loved most about Maths, Emil said it was the only subject free of all subjectivity.

“There are many reasons to love math, so to be honest, I can’t give a singular most important reason I love it.


“Statements in maths that are proven to be true, (or are given to be true in many problems) are irrefutable, and cannot be shown to be false. This means that any statement derived from these statements is also true. This is the fundamental principle of mathematical proof.

“I used to think of maths as a rigid set of procedures, and that one could find the answers to problems by following these procedures. And that the way to get better at maths was to study these procedures. This is not the case. Maths is a truly dynamic method of reasoning that is built upon the principle of mathematical proof. I only started to get maths once I started to understand this.”

While at the Summer School, Emil asked his tutors the question, “how do I get better at Mathematics?”

“They all stated that maths is a skill, and the primary way to get better at it is to practise, and do it. They also said to explore and to try new things in maths, and thus be prepared to fail, a lot, because that’s how one learns,” Emil said.

“Most of the problems I tried at NMSS I failed at finding the solution, but I learned ample amounts by trying.”