Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Confessions Of A Math Addict

I have a confession to make. I am a math addict. My parents introduced me to it when I was about 3, and after I tried it a few times, I was hooked. By the time I was 4, I had moved on to the harder stuff, multiplication and division, and I don't just mean 5x3, I was doing the hard stuff, multi-digit multiplication and division, and I didn't need a pencil or paper, just straight to my head.

When my kindergarten teacher found out, wow! He marched me straight down to the vice principal and interrupted a meeting. Needless to say, the VP was shocked to find such a young math addict in his school. My teachers tried to help me, but I was always a step ahead of them. I was doing exponentiation by 2nd grade, algebra by 5th grade, trigonometry by 6th, it seemed that nothing would stop this addiction.

They kept trying to help me, but I just kept right on doing math. Sometimes my grades would drop because I was bored, or didn't like the teacher. They kept putting me in tougher environments, but I just kept on doing it. In jr high, a friend introduced me to computers. I realized these things could make it faster and easier to do really hard math. You know the story, "Hey Geoff, check this out...."

By the time I got to high school, it was really bad, joined a "math club" and started doing "number sense". And, I was completely hooked on computers. My junior year was the worst, I was taking 3 credits of math, second, third, and 4th period, every day, including "computer math".

I was so addicted by my senior year that when I only got a 760 on the SAT math, I decided to do it again because I should have gotten higher. The second time, I hit 800. I was up to doing AP Calculus, the really hard stuff, and still, no one could stop me. I didn't pay attention in class, didn't do my homework, and yet flew through every test they dropped on me. They couldn't catch me or stop me.

But it all came crashing down in college, the hard math there was only available at 8:30 in the morning, and my brain just wasn't working at that hour. They had me doing stuff called Calc II, Calc III, & Differential Equations, and always timed tests. But it wasn't the math that got me, it was those early hours. My brain just can't handle those early hours.

After college, I cut way back on the hard stuff, went back to the basics, including some prime number theory. But I was working as a computer programmer, so I was doing math at work every day, and usually at home on the weekends. I started experimenting with other types of math, hashing, encryption, compression, you name it, I probably experimented with it. It wasn't hard, but without a computer, it would have been very tedious.

Yes, I've been a math addict for over 40 years now, and I don't think I'll ever quit. Parents beware, introducing your children to math at a young age can lead to a lifelong addiction.

P.S. This is a true story, although some of the details might be exact, it's all from memory.

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