The life story of Perelman:
- the mathematician who solved the PointCaré Conjecture
- rejected the Fields Prize (the first and only person to do so)
- rejected 1 mil US$ prize for his solution of the Conjecture.
has left me with some realizations that I think you may find useful or otherwise thought-provoking.
If you don’t know about him, you can read my summary about Perelman story here.
Below are the main lessons I’ve learned:
- I used to dislike early specialization programs for young pupils. But Perelman’s story has made me more open to this.
I now accept that it may be necessary for finding and growing exceptionally talented people (esp. in Math?). Hence, it seems important to help children identify their talents as early as possible, by giving them many opportunities to get exposed to various disciplines. (This is not the same as forcing young people to follow a field decided by parents or someone else)
Continue reading Lessons from Perelman Story
Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest heavy boxers in the sport’s history.
It was told that in a conversation, the interviewer asked him: “How many sit-ups do you do?”
He answered “I don’t count my sit-ups”.
But he then elaborated:
“I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.”
That’s when it really counts: not the miles you’ve run or the work you’ve accomplished, but the extra miles, the extra hours, the extra work, the extra responsibility that you take, while others refuse or not motivated enough to do or take.
That’s what really matters. The extra miles, not the miles.
I’ve been hearing a lot about him through the news.
Now I know why he’s among the greatest athletes.
Grigory Perelman is:
- A Russian, born in 1966.
- Careful, disciplined and precise in his thinking, ever since his childhood. Since a young age, he’s already quite uninterested in the “real” world, because the only world to him is Math.
- Won IMO 1982’s gold medal – and he’s known for “there is no Math question he can’t solve” (I guess, no high school Math question).
- A geometry type of Mathematician: he solves problems using shapes, drawing lines, etc. This explains why he’s born for Topology, a field of Math that concerns a lot of shapes and dimensions.
Continue reading Perelman – The Math Genius Who rejected the Fields Prize
When we were a child, we grew up unconsciously – we neither resisted nor purposely accelerated the process (of course, our parents probably did the latter)
When we get older, growth now requires conscious efforts.
And this is probably the reason behind the widespread phenomenon: the older one gets, the more one resists change. Because as we get older, our ability to adapt naturally declines.
Change is a fundamental ingredient of growth. To fear change means to stop growing, to close our mind to a finer reality and to stop getting closer to truth.
Young people, by definition of the word ‘young’, are well equipped for growth.
But why so many of them decide not to grow, by not leaving any room for change?
In general, we seem to give a lot of credit to “free” stuffs.
This is obviously a mistake in our mind’s processing. Upon a closer examination, what’s important is the difference between the benefit and the price, not just the price:
Value (x) = Benefit (x) – Price (x).
Getting a free rotten tomato is not going to be valuable.
Paying 25$ to buy a book that boosts our morale or inspires us to think is indeed valuable.
No, it’s invaluable.
Free things usually cost us more in the end. Mostly because their benefits are negative. And sometimes because their actual price is > 0, which means it’s practically a loan, not a purchase.
Similarly, being cheap in terms of price is not what really matters, logically speaking. Value is.
It’s good to be a big fish.
Of course, it’s the small pond that makes the fish look big. A small pond makes us believe we are quite good. And that invariably makes us feel good.
And that usually traps us into believing that we’re really….big, big even out of the context of the small pond. Absolute big.
And one day, we happen to see bigger better fish. Oh… it’s the pond(!), not the fish, that actually provides meaning for “big”.
But being used to being “big”, a terrible thing then happens: we become defensive, to keep the status quo, which has never been real – except in our mind.