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PRIMES: Alexandria Yu's Story



From a young age, mathematics has always fascinated me. The many different ways of solving a single problem were intriguing and appealing and I always happily dove into contests and classes to satisfy my wish to know more. However, math research is completely different from anything else done in school or contests. There are no solutions using another method you can compare to your own as a different viewpoint and no way of knowing if your idea will work until hours and hours of thought reach a conclusion and you either have a contradiction, or everything works out. It is both frustrating and rewarding in a vastly different way from working on a typical difficult contest problem.

PRIMES was not my first experience with research or paper writing (my first being the summer before on an different project), but it was the first time I had worked on a single problem for so long, which posed a different challenge altogether, especially as failures piled up. It was difficult to push past those walls, but the satisfaction of finding an idea that worked overshadowed the difficulty. In the end, I think it gave me a better idea of what being a researcher is like, as many of them work on problems for years on end.

My mentor, Sherry Gong, was extremely helpful in pushing me in the right direction when I stagnated. She also helped me quite a bit with figuring out how to create presentation slides containing mathematical symbols. With her help, I was able to make steady progress on a solution and craft out a coherent talk in order to present my results. I am very grateful to all of the PRIMES staff, whose patience often seemed endless as I struggled with the technicalities of LaTeX or different mathematical notations. PRIMES was a fantastic opportunity that made me even more interested in math research and allowed me to learn skills necessary for every mathematician. If you enjoy problem solving and want to learn the skills needed to go into academia, PRIMES is the perfect way to start off.


Alexandria Yu worked on the project Towards the classification of unital 7-dimensional commutative algebras under the mentorship of Sherry Gong.

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