A planet to discover

Published on April 9th, 2013 | by Jo

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Maths is Everywhere

Maithili Mehta

I grew up in a household that valued maths above all else. My father is a maths Ph.D., my mother studied tertiary level maths for fun and I practiced reading on the titles of my father’s maths text books. At an age when most little girls aspire to be ballet dancers, I would amaze listeners by announcing that when I grew up, I wanted to be a “Poffessoor of Albega and topology” (sic).

Throughout my school years, I continued my love affair with mathematics. I developed a fascination with the Moebius strip – and would often construct models and walk my fingers along the paper to confirm its unique topological properties. I remember being particularly impressed with one of my secondary school maths teachers, who used to bring interesting articles to school to show us. The one that really tickled my fancy was entitled “The transcendental number “e””.

University was great and I dabbled in the area of Partial Differential Equations before finally settling on a fairly pure algebraic problem in the field of Mathematical Physics as a Ph.D. topic. It was great fun to be surrounded by like minded people – birthday cards always extolled the virtues of the special birthday number (35 is the last product of 2 consecutive primes until I turn 77!).

I have ended up working in private industry, at an optimisation research company. We build journey planning software and as part of my work, I get to delve into the shortest path problem and other networking algorithms.

As an adult with children of my own, I am still finding mathematical beauty everywhere – in the geometry of the Angry birds app, in my daughters music theory homework (who doesn’t love fractions?) or in the arc of the winning goal in a soccer game. I love going into school and kindy and watching the children taking so much joy in learning to count, add and do algebra instinctively and without fear. The older I get, the more I realise, maths really is everywhere!

 

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After finishing her Ph.D. in Quantum Superalgebras in 2003, Maithili Mehta moved into private industry and became a software engineer. Maithili loves reading, knitting, crocheting, music and of course Mathematics!

 

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One Response to Maths is Everywhere

  1. helen says:

    what an extraordinary young woman!

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