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# 'my foremost passion' - Stanford's Intellectual Vitality, "What is math?"

chandescartes 2 / 4
Dec 19, 2013   #1
Any comments/revisions on quality/thoroughness of my response, better ways to word some phrases, and grammar would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone!

Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development (250 words)

What is math? Before middle school, I thought it was the tedious, tiresome task of 'finding x' - nothing beyond a set of repetitive, meaningless problems. This entire notion, however, drastically changed when I entered middle school.

The bell rang as I stepped into my first math class. I wasn't very excited for another year of boring problems. However, the writing on the board immediately grabbed my attention. "Prove: Any number times zero equals zero". My immediate thoughts were 'what did it mean to 'prove', and why would anyone need to prove such an obvious statement?' This certainly did not seem like the previous math classes I took.

A lanky Russian teacher stepped forward and asked if anyone knew the 'proof'. When no one raised their hands, he took the task upon himself. He wrote:

1. 0 = 0 + 0.
2. Multiply 'n' to both sides: n*0 = n(0 + 0) = n*0 + n*0
3. Subtract n*0 from both sides: 0 = n*0

When he finished writing, he had not only proved that 'n*0 = 0.' He had also proved to me that math wasn't about 'finding x'. Rather, math was a wonderful process of using acquired knowledge to unveil further truths. I had finally discovered the true beauty of mathematics. As we delved into more complicated and exciting proofs, my passion for mathematics continued to rise, and until today, it remains my foremost passion.
renataba 1 / 3
Dec 19, 2013   #2
I really liked the essay! But ...unveil additional truths sounds better to me than further truths though! :)
Dec 19, 2013   #3
OP chandescartes 2 / 4
Dec 19, 2013   #4