Happy National Mathematical Year! :-)

Do you recognize that feeling that you get after having solved a mathematical problem? I loved that feeling. But this was long after I thought ‘a’ square + ‘b’ square was equal to a gigantic square and an ‘acute’ angle was a way of calling an angle cute.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared the year 2012 as ‘National Mathematical Year’ as a tribute to the maths genius Ramanujam.

I caught up with our in-house maths enthusiast and author of the ‘Happy Maths’ series, Mala Kumar, for a quick Q & A session.

– What inspired you to write the ‘Happy Maths’ series and tell us more about the series?

During the recreational maths workshops that I used to conduct in schools, most students seemed to enjoy the sessions as much as I did! The Pratham Books team felt there was value in recording at least some of those ideas in the form of books. And that’s how the series happened. The books are more like storybooks than quiz and brain teaser books, and touch on some concepts that seem simple but are quite ambiguous to most of us. Children can enjoy solving problems whether they believe themselves to be good or bad at the subject. The books have very cheerful illustrations by Angie and Upesh, and that definitely makes things so much easier to understand.

– Was mathematics your favourite subject?

Yes, not because I was good at it, but because maths homework took less time than say, history homework, and allowed me to play outside for longer.

– Do you still enjoy solving problems? How often do you challenge your brain?

I enjoy solving problems. That does not necessarily mean I am good at solving them! I write an anonymous newspaper column for children that requires me to challenge my brain ‘mathmatically’ at least once a week.

– As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rightly put it, many often think that pursuing mathematics or even pure science subjects might not lead to an attractive career. Your thoughts?

That is purely subjective, pardon the pun. Careers need to be decided by people who are going to take them up, based on their interests and capabilities. Maths can lead to many interesting careers… one can become a space scientist or even the prime minister of a country!

Okay, now if you are inspired, try solving these! 😉 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsolved_problems_in_mathematics

Peas please 🙂

Suraj J Menon


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