Smiling stories

Meeting the Mathemagician

When I first heard about Arthur Benjamin the mathemagician, a few weeks ago, A number wizard and the mathematics professor, I was really awestruck  by the sheer brilliance of the man at one of the most time consuming mathematical operation, i.e. Squaring of numbers.

Arthur Benjamin is the well known mathamatics educator known for squaring the numbers faster than a calculator, and so, racing against the calculators seems peanuts for the genius.  In fact, What Ted Talks says about him perfectly sums up his character :

 “Using daring displays of algorithmic trickery, lightning calculator and number wizard Arthur Benjamin mesmerizes audiences with mathematical mystery and beauty. Arthur Benjamin makes numbers dance. In his day job, he’s a professor of math at Harvey Mudd College; in his other day job, he’s a “Mathemagician,” taking the stage in his tuxedo to perform high-speed mental calculations, memorizations and other astounding math stunts. It’s part of his drive to teach math and mental agility in interesting ways.”

Below is a glimpse of his mathemagic  :

Other than his extra-ordinary skills at solving, I truly respect his fun loving attitude while teaching and solving. He makes the math “sound easy” for the listener and his students as well, and to me, making a subject seemingly easy for a student, is the first step towards evoking interest.

Here’s another such video, where he reveals some really amazing tricks for squaring and multiplication :

But, yet again, I will come back to the point, which I felt is an important element of his personality. Its his ability to make learning a funny experience, and what I personally learned from him is, Teachers are not entertainers, but teaching can be funny.

 To bring a student at ease with the subjects is probably the most important achievement of a teacher, and  there are amazing educators all around the world doing so. But unfortunately, sometimes the curriculum, sometimes resources or sometimes the education system in itself, curbs down the possibility of  doing something innovative and courageous.

As soon as I came across Arthur Benjamin’s presentations, or whenever I find people like him, I always felt like hitting pure gold. A curious student within myself is always surprised at the sources of knowledge and the people with such worth and caliber working around the globe to make things better.

That’s how I met the mathemagician, and felt his magic, all the way. 🙂


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