PRIMES: Fengning Ding's Story
PRIMES is by far the best math or science program I have ever participated in. Unlike transient summer camps or programs devoted solely to competitions, PRIMES concentrates on real mathematics – an extended inquiry of the unknown. By having students spend a few months instead of a few weeks exploring unsolved as opposed to solved problems, PRIMES instills in students a far greater comprehension of mathematics than any other program. Before PRIMES, I have done numerous math competitions and read many advanced textbooks, but PRIMES gave me a special intimacy with abstract math that competitions and textbooks could not. Working at the frontier of mathematics, I gained not only a better understanding of abstract algebra but also an invaluable insight into mathematical research and the mathematical community.
I first heard of PRIMES at the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament, and so I applied and was admitted. I was initially concerned about the scale of the time commitment, for as a boarding student, I would need to spend perhaps two hours just commuting to and from Boston by train. But by February, when I started meeting my mentor and talking about representation theory, I knew that this time was well-spent. In the two hours of meeting with, I would learn more math than I usually would in a week or maybe even a month, and even the train ride back would be spent productively mulling over these abstract concepts.
When I started working on my research project, my mentor Sasha Tsymbaliuk guided me through the dense texts of the mathematical papers, patiently explaining the terminology on each page. He helped me formulate my proofs and gave me hints and new ideas. When both of us were stuck, we would ask Professor Etingof, who was very kind and always helpful. The quality of the mentors at PRIMES is unparalleled, and in my mentor I found someone to communicate my deep passion for mathematics even beyond the research project.
I highly encourage anyone interested in mathematics, computational biology, and computer science to apply to PRIMES. PRIMES is a truly unique opportunity for such a student to engage and expand his/her interest and gain a vastly deeper understanding of his/her subject. The time at PRIMES will truly be well-invested.
Fengning Ding worked on the project Infinitesimal Cherednik algebras under the mentorship of Sasha Tsymbaliuk.