by Martin Warde
JAMES Chen may be an internationally rated mathematician but that doesn’t add up to him being a genius with numbers.
In fact, the 17-year-old from Annacotty says that he is merely a student who has an interest in learning more about the subject.
“I’m not quite at the level of being able to get a gold medal in the International Math Olympiad yet, let alone the level of some of the world’s leading mathematicians,” he modestly states.
Currently studying for his Leaving Certificate at Castletroy College, James has recently returned from Iceland, where he was a member of the team that represented Ireland at an international Mathematics competition in Reykjavík.
The competition requires students to solve 20 maths problems in 4.5 hours which, according to James, is a very challenging task.
“The math competition in Iceland was quite challenging. It was a team competition, so we had to work together to answer as many of the 20 given questions as possible in four and a half hours. We all tried our best with it and, although we didn’t win the competition, it was an important experience for all of us because it would train us for next year’s International Math Olympiad,” James explained.
He spends a lot of his time helping fellow students at Castletroy College learn more about mathematics, which he says was “sparked” by the beauty which he has found in maths as a subject.
“I suppose that spark in helping others came from the reason I like maths. I think it is a really diverse subject. Yet despite the variety, they are all very connected to each other, even if they seem completely unrelated.
“I find the hidden connections in the subject beautiful, and they are even more fascinating when you discover them. They can really help in understanding the subject as a whole better, and that’s what I really enjoy about it. It’s like an exploration game that encourages you to keep going the further you progress.”
Along with maths, James has a huge interest in gaming and coding.
“I do a bit of coding in my spare time as well. I’m not very advanced at it, so at the moment I just code for pleasure. I also play video games.
James has not yet decided on a future career path but he doesn’t rule out becoming a maths teacher.
“I am not completely sure what I want to do in the future, but I suppose I could try becoming a mathematician or getting a career somewhere in the technology sector. I am unsure of the exact details.”