Welcome to October – an exciting month for all those lovers of spooky activities and Halloween. Also, welcome to the forth post for the Inspirational Corner. I am very happy to see how many lovely people have taken some time to answer our questions and share their passion for mathematics. Hope you enjoyed our third interview with Abhirami. Today we have Kashmira – an Economy and Finance students who does mathematics in her free time. We hope you will be inspired by her journey and all her enthusiasm for mathematics from such a young age.
What is your name? Where are you from? Give us a little background story.
Well, here I am – a believer in the religion of math – Kashmira Zambad, born and raised in a little town, Nandura, from the country that raised Ramanujan – India! I study B.Sc Economics and Finance at University of London affiliated college in Mumbai.
Out of all the subjects, why Math?
In high school, I used to study mathematics as a subject. But now, for me, mathematics is more like my favourite pastime. I started my own Maths club as a Facebook page at the age of 15, purely out of my interest to spread the awareness about the elegance and the beauty that math possess.
I always wished my birth-date to be a prime number until I got to know that I share my birthday with Paul Erdos. My brother gifted me his biography (“The Man who Loved only Numbers” by Paul Hoffman) on my birthday. This altered my whole view towards math! I am thrilled by the power that numbers contain within them. I love to watch movies and documentaries related to math. Mathematics has always challenged me and the pursuit of learning and unfolding the new concept offers me unmatched satisfaction and eagerness to unfold something else.
Mathematics has taught me the importance of being patient. It has really not only helped me to improve my overall GPA (math subjects are always easy to score) but also in helping me develop a sense of understanding of the way things function. Mathematics has this magic of developing critical and analytical skills which has helped me in all the walks of my life. If I am not with mathematics, then I might be grasped by statistics or economics which do involve math in some sense or the other. Math has just captivated my interest forever!
What is your opinion about all the stigma against mathematics? Where do you think it starts and how does it affect today’s generation decision regarding a career in math?
Stigma against mathematics has been rooted deep down in people’s mind in the society at large. For me, it starts with the rote learning of multiplication, which students at large are daunted by. I had the opportunity to learn abacus through UCMAS (Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System) which changed the entire course of my ability to think and visualise numbers. I cannot thank my parents enough for influencing and sculpting my brain at the very young age. The root of the problem, I believe, lies in the false expectations that are being set up for what math really is.
The black and white view of being right and wrong creates the rift. Only if the answer is correct, you are right; failure should be avoided at all costs- such thinking is being subjugated in the minds of children from the very beginning which creates a false impression of the real math that lies beneath the math taught in most of the school curriculum! Math, itself, is never at fault. It is a general belief that people fall into two categories: ‘math people’ or ‘non-math people’. When students struggle in class, they think this means they do not have a math brain and they give up and that they belong to the non-math community. This may have a large impact on the students’ beliefs about themselves which does alter their decisions regarding choosing a career related to math.
Towards what part of mathematics do you feel more attracted to and why?
I do not study mathematics as a part of a syllabus, it is at my discretion to delve into whatever topic I find fascinating. I generally find myself reading a lot about number theory, exploring YouTube channels or reading some research papers.
I am taking linear algebra as a subject in my final year of undergrad degree and am excited to the power infinity to deep dive into the world of matrices. The concept of determinants is very close to my heart. It started with my epiphany to a special kind of a pascal matrix and has continued to exponentially intrigue me.
I like to listen to math related podcasts while travelling and one can always find me hooked on a book related to math. Currently, I am reading “Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea” by Charles Seife. It was gifted by my brother as a rakhi gift!
The mathematics club allows me to tie deep connections with topics like logic, prime numbers, probability and statistics and keep exploring further. Probability is the topic which bewilders me. The way most people fall prey to the fallacy of conditional probability is amusing.
I love to read about the history of mathematicians. It did made me feel sad to know that Pascal died at the age of 39, and that it was after his death that one of his servants at the house discovered a paper bulging out of his pocket – which served as the first proof of mathematical expectation concept. It involved the proof of maximum profit in the sense of infinite gains of believing in God irrespective of its existence. I have had various moments of exploration and encounters about diverse subjects in math while reading variety of books. Randomness, is inherent. It is uncertain. I believe that randomness and chance has really played its part in developing my liking for the math by making me aware and helping me embracing the beauty that it possess.
I believe in all the power and potential ‘math’ contains and all the power and potential that ‘math’ can equip the person studying math with! The famous French mathematician and Fields medal winner – Cedric Villani has been a never-ending source of inspiration to me. His talks on mathematics always bend my mind in a direction different than it did while listening to him the last time. For me, there is an alternate world of I, me and my mathematics! Math has been an escape to the real world (not the world which we live in, this life is abstract and discrete from the life I believe is real) for me, for it has shaped my thinking and reasoning gradually to make me the person that I am today.
How would you counteract the negative stigma math has in our younger generation?
The beliefs need to be altered from the core of the society. The belief that math is only what you study at school needs to be altered. I am very glad to come across LThMath who work towards breaking these stereotypes.
Visualisation can pave the way, the online MOOCs have been shown to help. The way I go about learning math is with a healthy dose of easy problems to make me feel good and build the fundamentals coupled with a dose of harder, more involved problems that require several attempts and trying different approaches. I find that this works best for me and allows me to stay motivated. This may help in building the confidence in solving math.
What is your final destination career-wise?
I would love to see myself as a professor in field related to economics, statistics and mathematics. I have always enjoyed learning, teaching a topic, engaging in discussions or solving doubts of my classmates and juniors. People often remark that ‘I explain the concepts intuitively and they never have to struggle in the concept again’. The joy of solving and helping is what gives me immense satisfaction. I am also looking forward to being a researcher in economics of education and a professional artist.
If you have any social media links feel free to let us know:
Explore my math club: queensigma
Before you go, take a look at Kashmira‘s favorite quotes and mathematicians. Have a great day and always search for inspiration:
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Lots of love and don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!