Grants provide opportunities for math scholar

Mathematics is more than a scramble of numbers for Yukihide “Yuki” Nakada, a senior who is a double major in mathematics and philosophy/religious studies.

It’s what makes the world go ’round for him.

“This organic feeling that there is a symmetry and simplicity that everything is related is just a wonderful thing about mathematics, which sets it apart as a discipline,” says Yuki.

Mathematics has interested him throughout his education, both at Allegheny and while growing up in Tokyo, Japan. “I liked numbers when I was very small, although I wasn’t good at it,” he says. “When I was in 11th grade, I tried math for the first time in an online high school and discovered I liked it. By the time I graduated, I was pretty sure that I was going to do math,” he says.

During his first year at Allegheny, Yuki became a math tutor and was presented with his first summer research experience. “It was unbelievably satisfying to discover your own proof. It was like your own idea,” he says.

Along with math, Yuki found philosophy to be an interesting subject.  “Both philosophy and math have very similar kinds of thinking, abstract reasoning, and critical analysis but in a very different context,” he says.

Looking for a new challenge, Yuki decided to study abroad during his junior year through a math program at the Independent University of Moscow/The Higher School of Economics. One of the great opportunities the program provided was encountering different professors.

“The variety in teaching opened up my perspective on different ways you can be a mathematician,” he explains.

In Moscow, the courses were taught in English with one three-hour lecture per week. Often, many classes involved active participation that made the learning process more stimulating. Studying and working with 14 other students who also were passionate about math made for a vibrant and enriching experience for Yuki.  “It made math feel like a social endeavor. It was the first time that I got to experience this in person. It added a new dimension to mathematical activity,” he says.

Moscow’s math program also offered a different kind of curriculum to Yuki. “Study abroad was a great example of what I can expect from graduate school,” he says.

These academic experiences have been made possible by generous donors: Yuki received the Steve Bowser Scholarship for 2015-16. He was a recipient of the Harold M. State Research Fellowship for summer 2015.  In 2013-14 and 2014-15 he received the de Lara Scholarship. In the summer of 2013 he was supported through the Dr. Barbara Lotze Student-Faculty Research Fellowship Fund.

After Allegheny, Yuki would like to pursue his passion in math through graduate school, as math has prepared him beyond what he has expected and offered him a new perspective of the world.

— Shu Yi Tang ’17