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3 weeks ago

My Journey to #AchieveMore

We, my friend and co-author Dr. Olga Radko and myself, work for Los Angeles Math Circle (LAMC), a free Sunday math school for mathematically inclined children run by UCLA Math Department. LAMC began with a basic question we both have asked ourselves at various times, "What would we like the incoming UCLA freshmen to know so that they could enjoy the courses we teach here?" LAMC is the answer. We teach the 21st century math in a spiral from kindergarten to 12th grade. For example, our students begin learning vector algebra in the 1st and 2nd grade. We give them a game to play, called Fight a Dragon. In the game, a hero has to defeat a dragon by cutting all of its tails and heads with a sword. The number of the heads and tails is encoded by the dragon's state vector. The purpose of the game is to make the state vector equal to zero. We believe that thinking is a craft which has its own tricks. Here are a few we teach our students: 1. Think questions not answers! Asking a narrowly focused question usually is 90% answering it. 2. Think concepts not facts! A concept is a big and important idea. Conceptual thinking is a way to compress information. 3. Image recognition is a key to effective thinking. To train a neural network, including a human brain, to recognize images of a specific sort, one has to pour a few gigabites of data into it. There is no substitute for training! 4. Think models! A real life phenomenon is usually too complicated to understand at once. Making a math model is a key to success! Our approach works! Over the 11 years of its life, LAMC has produced dozens of national champions in all sorts of math competitions, Math Kangaroo, AMC (American Math Competition), BAMO (Bay Area Math Competition), etc. We have educated thousands of students in the 21st century mathematics and we have made them love the beauty of math as much as we do it ourselves. The strongest LAMC student I have personally seen was an African-American girl from a not very opulent family. The experience of being in a classroom with this girl quite often was jaw-dropping. One day, for example, she invented integral calculus in front of me, herself being in 6th grade!

LAMC is the answer. We teach the 21st century math in a spiral from kindergarten to 12th grade. For example, our students begin learning vector algebra in the 1st and 2nd grade. We give them a game to play, called Fight a Dragon. In the game, a hero has to defeat a dragon by cutting all of its tails and heads with a sword. The number of the heads and tails is encoded by the dragon's state vector. The purpose of the game is to make the state vector equal to zero. We believe that thinking is a craft which has its own tricks. Here are a few we teach our students: 1. Think questions not answers! Asking a narrowly focused question usually is 90% answering it. 2. Think concepts not facts! A concept is a big and important idea. Conceptual thinking is a way to compress information. 3. Image recognition is a key to effective thinking. To train a neural network, including a human brain, to recognize images of a specific sort, one has to pour a few gigabites of data into it. There is no substitute for training! 4. Think models! A real life phenomenon is usually too complicated to understand at once. Making a math model is a key to success! Our approach works! Over the 11 years of its life, LAMC has produced dozens of national champions in all sorts of math competitions, Math Kangaroo, AMC (American Math Competition), BAMO (Bay Area Math Competition), etc. We have educated thousands of students in the 21st century mathematics and we have made them love the beauty of math as much as we do it ourselves. The strongest LAMC student I have personally seen was an African-American girl from a not very opulent family. The experience of being in a classroom with this girl quite often was jaw-dropping. One day, for example, she invented integral calculus in front of me, herself being in 6th grade!

*What Drives You to #AchieveMore?*

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