PRIMES: Jonathan Tidor's Story
If you like math competitions, you'll love PRIMES. For me, PRIMES was the opportunity to do what I like best about competitions--playing around with cool problems, trying to figure out the path to a solution. Math research is just the same, except that the problems don't go away after an hour, they're the kind that you keep pondering for days and weeks and months.
Research can be intimidating at first; there are so many directions to pursue and some might not lead anywhere while others might be too difficult to make any progress on. One of the most important things that PRIMES taught me about research was to always have a short-term goal. Knowing what you want to prove in the long run is great, but you can get lost easily. If you always know the next little thing you want to do there's always something to work on and you keep making progress, bit by bit.
Keeping this in mind, my partner and I worked under our mentor Jesse Geneson over the last year. Sometimes the research went slowly, but we always had something to work on, and when everything came together to into a big result, it felt really incredible.
PRIMES is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who loves math. Even though the thought of doing actual research can be a bit scary at first, I found it to be a wonderful experience. I am so grateful for the ability that PRIMES has given me to work on math as much as I did over the last year and with such great guidance and I hope that you will be able to have the same experience.
Jonathan Tidor, together with Rohil Prasad, worked on the project Staged self-assembly under the mentorship of Jesse Geneson.