Best mathematician on cc

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Discus: SAT/ACT Tests and Test Preparation: July 2004 Archive: Best mathematician on cc
By Tongos (Tongos) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit

i think Al0 is the best math guy here on cc, his solutions are so indepth and he seems to have a solution to every problem. he's even better than most of my math teachers.

By Ali_Liu (Ali_Liu) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 01:51 pm: Edit

Serene.....btw, does she come back anymore?

By Adidasty (Adidasty) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 02:58 pm: Edit

Al0 is pretty awesome. Ill agree. Ill also have to say Feuler is up there, but i am officially going to say that Optimizerdad knows his stuff amazingly well.

By Optimizerdad (Optimizerdad) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 08:56 pm: Edit


By Tongos (Tongos) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 09:07 pm: Edit

yeah, optimizerdad, your great in math. adidasty has sense in what he's talking about, he's pretty smart.

By Ihatesats (Ihatesats) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 09:59 pm: Edit

Albert Einstein.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:06 pm: Edit

Serene does not visit the board too often, and when she does it is under a different name.

Serene was unbelievable, but the best pure math student on CC was Fairyofwind who was in a league on his own. There is no comparison possible with the contemporary posters. Nobody comes close to him.

For practical applications, Quarky was exceptional with calculators, especially with his TI-89.

By Feuler (Feuler) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:18 pm: Edit

How are you defining "best mathematician?" It seems like it would be pretty hard to tell through a few posts, so do you mean who makes the greatest mathematical contribution to the board or something? If you mean best math student that has ever been on this board, it would be hard to know. As far as we know, Reid Barton (4-time IMO Gold medalist, and, from my interactions with him at MOSP, possibly the smartest, at least with respect to analytical matters, person I have ever met) might have made one post sometime, and in such a case he would almost certainly be #1, but no one would know it.

Of the people I have seen post fairly frequently (though I don't view this board religiously) I would probably put my vote behind Al0, for his level of precision and apparent understanding of mathematics (what I mean by that is that he seems to understand the reasoning, as opposed to just the way to find the answer).

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

Yeah, Reid Barton is a math god. I think he's won Putnam for the past few years also. Damn...and i used to think that i was pretty good at math (ha)

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 10:56 pm: Edit

Reid Barton, Daniel Kane, and Gabriel Carroll are the three biggest math geniuses on the undergrad math scene in the USA. What order they should be placed in is a matter of opinion, but I personally think Gabriel Carroll is best.

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 10:59 pm: Edit

I remember Fairyofwind and can confirm, he was VERY amazingly talented.

By Feuler (Feuler) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 11:57 pm: Edit

On the topic of Undergrad math folk, Tiankai Lui is about to weigh in, too.

Of course, no one will really know who is #1 until one of them solves the Riemann hypothesis or something :)

By Adidasty (Adidasty) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 12:00 am: Edit

fairyofwind was awesome, i remember that from back in the day when i read the posts and didnt create a name. feuler is awesome at mathematics, but from reading his posts and talking to him a litte, i dunno if hes a super skeptic or cynic or what, but something about that guy makes me laugh. its awesome. also, check out the tongos math class thread and read some of Al0's posts. that guy has got some skills. period.

By Kyptonite (Kyptonite) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 09:41 am: Edit

Are we strictly talking about problem-solving? In that case, feuler wins.

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:41 am: Edit

In my opinion, Daniel Kane isn't quite in the same league as Barton and Carroll. I actually think Po Ru Loh is better than him. Although Kane did win Putnam as a Freshman.

Anyway, my vote goes to Feuler; Didn't you get a 13 on AIME as a freshman or something like that? Craaaazyyy...

By Tongos (Tongos) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 04:21 pm: Edit

there are pretty crazy people on this collegeconfidential site. i'd guess i'd give feuler two thumbs up too, he's very bright indeed. there is a lot more to math than scoring high in the competitions though, its the passion really. its the dedication to a problem, its creating new ways to figure out problems, its thinking out of the box, thinking indepth, finding connections, and analysis. I'd say, yes, its very difficult to say who is the best mathematician. is it the one who is most familiar with math, therefore, can be a better problem solver. Or is the man who doesnt know higher math, but challenges himself to solving difficult problems in arithmetic.
The point is, the more you dedicate yourself to doing math, the more you challenge yourself, the more you understand, the better mathematician you become. i honestly believe that most people have the power to become math geniuses, only if they would have a passion. and i see the passion in the cc members.

By Adidasty (Adidasty) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 05:08 pm: Edit

power to Tongos!

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 05:55 pm: Edit

Actually Tongos, i don't agree with you on your statement about most people have the power to become math geniuses. I think your mathematical aptitude and ability to reason are, for the most part, fixed. I know that Reid Barton and Gabe Carroll are much smarter than I am (at least mathematically) and that pretty much no matter how hard i try I could never reach their level of ability.

By Tongos (Tongos) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 06:00 pm: Edit

there are smart because they learned in very priveleged circumstances.

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 06:11 pm: Edit

What sort of circumstances, and how do you know that's what really causes their intelligence? I'm sure there are lots of kids who learned in very privileged circumstances as well, but they didn't win gold medals at IMO

Anyway, despite the exact cause of their abilities, very privileged circumstances or sheer geneticborn brain power, they are still, and will continue to be, much, much, much better at solving math problems than the average person could ever be.

By Adidasty (Adidasty) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 06:49 pm: Edit

youre right apocalyspe, BUT (bust out a little psychology), environmental math stimulus could very much be a factor in their mathematic ability. those guys couldnt factor polynomials when they were born. we dont all start out with the same knowledge base, but it is normally pretty close. their mathematical experience moldswhatever innate mathematical ability they have. i could easily say that without being brought up in a privileged manner, those people would not be as good in mathematics as they are and definitely people who worked hard at math could acheive their level of mathematical intellect.

By Tongos (Tongos) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 06:50 pm: Edit

i know, and they are better problem solvers because of the great schools they went to or they had the best teachers. I know people, personally, that were brought in ill ways, but once i got them interested in math, they became geniuses in the subject.
your growing, your still young, and i do believe, if you have the right teachers the right books, you could become a great mathematician. just to put the dedication of doing math. think a little harder, to apply is important.
i know this from my personal experiences.

By Tongos (Tongos) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 06:55 pm: Edit

theres mathematicians, in their early ages, were blinded by the best approach to math, but once they got that down, they became great intellects.

By Kyptonite (Kyptonite) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 07:02 pm: Edit

" know people, personally, that were brought in ill ways, but once i got them interested in math, they became geniuses in the subject. "

Aren't you using the term "genius" rather loosely?

By Conker (Conker) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 07:09 pm: Edit

"Serene does not visit the board too often, and when she does it is under a different name."

How would you know that? :o

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 08:01 pm: Edit

How would you know that? :o

Why would I tell you that?

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 10:44 pm: Edit

Tongos, how old exactly do you think i am? And how old are you?

Interesting points, Tongos and Adidasty, but I still am sticking to my guns.

Adidasty: Yes, obviously babies aren't born with mathematical knowledge. Perhaps we have conflicting definitions of intelligence. The kind of intelligence that i'm talking about is not one's knowledge, but rather one's ability to analyze and reason, which i think a person IS born with (It's in their genes anyway).

Naturally, to solve a math problem you need mathematical knowledge. And i agree that anyone is capable of knowing the knowledge required to solve a problem. HOWEVER, solving the problem requires more than just knowledge. One must reason, analyze, apply that knowledge, (or whatever you want to call it) to solve it. And i don't believe that everyone can do that. At least not at the same level.

Does that make any sense?

By Adidasty (Adidasty) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 10:50 pm: Edit

Good points. One's ability to analyze and reason is indeed their intelligence. However, one's ability to reason and analyze is not innate, it is learned. Something learned becomes a part of knowledge. When everyone is born, it's almost a clean sheet except for a few innate traits that are common to all of humanity.

"And i agree that anyone is capable of knowing the knowledge required to solve a problem."

That is pretty much my point exactly. And you are correct in saying that some problems require "out of the box" thinking. But indeed that type of thinking is not beyond anyone who is willing to apply themselves to the task of learning it.

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:04 pm: Edit


Alas, I myself am living proof of the fact that your very last statement is false. I have all of the required knowledge for solving certain problems (let's say AIME problems), but i still can't do most of them. And i've practiced lots of old contests, gone over solutions, etc. And i know some kids who do not study nearly as much as me and who are not nearly as motivated as me, and they can still figure out lots of problems that i can't. It just comes naturally to them.
Thus, I conclude that motivation, desire to learn, knowledge, etc. only plays a limited part in one's ability to solve problems.

By Feuler (Feuler) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:24 pm: Edit

It seems clear to me that the answer is some combination of innate talent and learned ability. Any mathematical ability must be learned, but some people have an easier time learning it than others.

One huge factor in mathematical potential, I think, is interest. I think Tongoes touched on this, but I'm going to draw it out a bit. I believe the primary reason I am good at math is because I love it, and thus have no difficulty focusing myself and honing my skills. I also think much of this honing is done not while I am doing math itself, but throughout the day as I observe certain things that prompt this sort of running mathematical inquiry in the back of my head. If I did not enjoy math, even if I sat down to practice every day, I would not have that running train of thought, and would not be half as good at math as I am.

Quick tangent- as much as I like doing math competitions, one thing that concerns me about them is that they have the potential to obscure WHY people do math. If one comes to like winning more than they like math, they're going to run into trouble. I think this may have been a big reason I made MOSP in 10th grade but not 11th- on the USAMO this year I think I may have wanted to solve the problems more because they would earn me a ticket to MOSP than because they were interesting and challenging, and as a result I got stressed and tanked the exam. Anyway, end tangent.

Of course, this applies to all things. The most amazing musicians I've ever heard are not the kids with strict parents that make them practice 2 hours a day, but those who love music and would like nothing more than to cause you to love it as much as they do.

That was terribly cliche, but I thought I'd toss it into the mix.

By Bubbloy_Two (Bubbloy_Two) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 08:55 am: Edit

you people are forgetting Tim Abbott.
But this is perhaps the saddest thread currently open.

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 11:28 am: Edit

Bubbloy Two, who the •••• was Tim Abbott and why is this the saddest thread currently open?

Feuler, I personally think that it's the other way around. I think that interest in mathematics (generally) comes from being good at it. But i agree that if you have an interest in mathematics you are more likely to know more math because you make an effort to expose yourself to more mathematics.

By Conker (Conker) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 11:48 am: Edit

"Why would I tell you that?"

Relax, I was only joking.

By Feuler (Feuler) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

Apocalypse, that is a good point; I may be mixing up cause and effect. There is certainly a correlation in any case, whether one causes the other or they are both caused by something else.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 03:35 pm: Edit

So was I!

By Ilovefood (Ilovefood) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:27 pm: Edit

No, Feuler, I think you make a good point - I have never been a good math student. Above average, for sure, but definitely not good. However, my senior year math teacher presented math as fun, and I started seeing math in life where I hadn't before. I started to actually like doing math, and my capacity to perform calculations increased at least threefold as a result. I'm still way behind most of the people on this thread, but I'm working on it and having fun.

By Tongos (Tongos) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:50 pm: Edit

well, figuring that were all still high school, i see so much potential. and kryptonite, i'd like to hear your definition of "genius." Are we to late to learn, no, are we to late to make fun in math, no. are we to late to become math theorists, no!
People are brought under two groups in math. those who know and those who understand. people who understand the subject see the beauty, and thus make it more fun and invigorating. thats why feuler, and reid barton do great on all their tests. its this! the more fun and invigorating the subject is, the greater craving you'll have to do the subject. understanding it, make challenges for you, thus making you a better math person.
everybody has a choice, they can either see the fun in math, become great in the subject or they could simply know math, and write down every word during the lecture, thinking how hard it is or boring it is.
Being a great mathematician also requires your familiarity with the subject. if you done algebra your whole life, then it will be easier for you to solve problems by stealthy algebra, and it will seem to others that you thought out of the box, when really, your used to that all the time.
sorry if i offended acolapsy (i always spell names wrong!) i meant, "you" as in the general member, not you in particular.

By Apocalypse_Now (Apocalypse_Now) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 11:54 pm: Edit

Interesting points, Tongos. But i still believe that Reid Barton's success in math has more to do with his natural reasoning ability than his love for math. But everyone has their own opinion i guess.

By Conker (Conker) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 12:10 am: Edit

"So was I!"

LOL, I'm really bad at sensing that sort of stuff, so... :)

By Aim78 (Aim78) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 12:17 am: Edit

Fairyofwind was the epitome of nerdiness, so yeah, he gets my vote.

By Supernal_Being (Supernal_Being) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 03:30 am: Edit

Hello fellow math-people, hahah. Sorry, I'm late, I just signed up to CC. I wouldn't say I'm an amazing mathematician, but I'm decent. I saw something that Tongos posted: "I honestly believe that most people have the power to become math geniuses, only if they would have a passion" Dude, I so agree. I wouldn't say that I'm a math genius. But a year ago, I couldn't solve a stupid little quadratic. This year, I moved from the lowest level of math to the highest in IB. Last year, I was averaging a C in the lowest level class, and this year, I have an A in the highest. There was this girl who truly was a math genius. She talked to me for only 10 minutes about why she loved math, and that changed my entire life. Her words invoked this passion in me to learn math for what it really is. And I did, and the results were amazing. I know that I can still do better if I tried harder. Thank you for bringing that up.

By Haithman (Haithman) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 04:17 am: Edit

Same here Supernal...last year this time I couldnt add fractions together, now Iam working with fourier transforms and finding proofs for advanced level mathematical problems like Euler's pent. # theory (I know not that impressive, but for me its good). You just have to have a passion for it, and everything will work out.

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