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PRIMES: Niket Gowravaram's Story



Ever since I was little, I have been interested in math. So, I was naturally drawn to math competitions mainly because of my love of solving problems. Yet competitions are limited in that math is reduced to merely a quantitative comparison of problem-solving ability. I sought something more from math, beyond competitions: another way to experience math.

My first experience with PRIMES was attending the PRIMES Annual Conference. There, I met people unlike those I had competed against. These high school students were not only willing to share their mathematical knowledge and original research, but they also treated the conference as a “festival of math”, where no one was competing with each other. The conference left an impression on me, because it was what math truly should be. Math should be a free and open collaboration among peers, not a collection of individuals actively working against each other like many of the competitions I participated in.

I’ve participated in the PRIMES program for two years so far. In my freshmen year, I was a member of a reading group, where I was introduced to fields of abstract and advanced mathematics far beyond the standard high school curriculum. The reading group exposed to me to the basics of mathematics research, and in addition to providing me with much of the background for my project this year, it also taught me the qualities that are essential to research. For my project the next year, I studied a novel approach to the K(pi,1) conjecture, an important statement in group theory and topology, along with my partner Uma Roy and my insightful mentor Alisa Knizel. At first, research was frustrating, but with my mentor’s patience and guidance, I was soon making conjectures and proving my own theorems. Research opened my eyes to what math truly is and exposed me to a whole new world of mathematics.

Soon, I grew to love the process of mathematical inquiry itself. I whole-heartedly recommend PRIMES to any high school student interested in math. PRIMES was a truly outstanding experience for me! .

Niket Gowravaram worked with Uma Roy on the joint project Diagrammatic Calculus of Coxeter and Braid Groups under the mentorship of Alisa Knizel.

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