Greg Sorkin, who graduated from Stuy the same year I did, and was in some of my math classes. (

FYI, here's some thoughts about problem solving from another Stuy graduate who was also a grad student at UCLA while I was there. We were both in cs281a, the computability and complexity theory class taught by Sheila Greibach (of Greibach normal form).

I'm thinking of writing to **nsingman**, you may remember him.) He has done a lot of research in CS theory. I would like to know his views on learning abstract math, problem solving, etc. Since he learned from some of the same HS teachers I learned from, I wonder how he feels they influenced him. I also wonder if he had any additional influences (particularly ones I didn't).FYI, here's some thoughts about problem solving from another Stuy graduate who was also a grad student at UCLA while I was there. We were both in cs281a, the computability and complexity theory class taught by Sheila Greibach (of Greibach normal form).

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## Comments

nsingmanI don't know Noémi, but I think she'd be very interesting to know. And I envy you taking computability from Greibach. My class was pretty good, and the instructor was okay, but I was the only one in class (which included at least one math major) who really understood what was going on.

gregboSometime during my freshman year at the 'tute, perhaps late first semester, he showed up in the lobby of my dorm one day. So we got to talking about our first year college experiences, and I told him how I was taking calculus, physics, etc. (the usual freshman load), and he replied that he was in calculus also – calculus of manifolds.

I wondered what calculus of manifolds was, because I'd never heard of it before. So I looked up information about it, then I wondered how he could have made the jump from high school calculus to calculus of manifolds over the summer. I knew he was a very good student, especially in math, but still ...

Perhaps I should ask you what I was thinking of asking Greg, seeing as you know what CS theory is.

nsingmanFeel free to ask, though I'm a bit (as in, twelve or thirteen years) rusty. :-)

gregboMy answers:

Gödel, Escher, Bach.Algorithmicsby David Harel a few months before starting grad school. I also had some friends at work I could discuss it with.BTW, some other observations about how Stuy math was more accessible to me:

FWIW, I took BC calculus along with several other people who were on the math team. I didn't take the AP exam, even though my teacher (Rittermann) tried to persuade me to. I was sort of burned out, and didn't want to add extra load to a busy schedule. Also, I looked over some review problems, and saw some things that either weren't covered or I didn't remember being covered, so I figured I wasn't too prepared for the exam. (At the time I didn't know that it was possible to get a 5 without getting a perfect score.)

nsingmanI saw the computability class as essentially a math class, and more abstract than applied (quite reminiscent of abstract algebra, in fact). General mathematical maturity, obtained through high school and undergraduate mathematics, made it reasonably easy going.

As for solving those problems, it's probably a combination of (mostly) following a logical sequence (including the occasional dead end, which makes it seem a bit brute force-like), and then seeing something in the pattern of the solution that suggests the right path. That's my approach to abstract mathematics generally. Of course, I don't always find the right path. :-)