PRIMES: Ravi Jagadeesan's Story
I first became interested in mathematics through contests. My excellent experience at the Canada-USA Mathcamp motivated me to join the PRIMES program. The decision to do so was probably one of the best decisions of my life. PRIMES has allowed me to appreciate the monumental differences between math Olympiads, more advanced mathematical learning, and mathematical research. I enjoyed my first year in PRIMES greatly, and I was pleased to be able to participate again this year.
My current project on Belyi functions is more abstract than the one I worked on last year, and I was worried that the background material would prove quite difficult. Starting from the beginning of my project, however, my mentor Akhil Mathew was incredibly helpful: he helped me learn background material and guided me through the reading that Professor Noam Elkies suggested. Learning just the bare foundations took a few months, but throughout Akhil and Professor Elkies pointed out directions and connections that I might be able to explore. My project grew out of a puzzle that Professor Elkies posed to me, whose solution I was able to place in a more general context with Akhil’s guidance. The process of finding problems, solutions, generalizations, and connections is slow, but offered me the opportunity to think deeply and gain an understanding of some of the mathematics related to my project, something that I enjoyed greatly.
I would recommend PRIMES wholeheartedly to anyone who is willing to make the time commitment. The effort required, while substantial, proved extremely valuable for me last year continues to do so this year.