A^2+B^2=?

Tell us about a skill or concept related to your anticipated area of study, that you found challenging and rewarding to learn.


Imagine strolling into the dimly lit study of your home to find your 10-year-old son hunched over a sheet of paper. His hair is tousled, his dull pencil furiously scribbling, crumpled up sheets of paper littering the area surrounding his chair. You ask if he wants to eat dinner, but he absentmindedly waves you off; he is too engrossed in his work even to think about eating. As you walk out, you catch a glance of his expression: frustrated, a little upset, but fully captivated.

This was most likely how I appeared to my mother in 5th grade, when I had just begun studying math individually, outside of school. One particular night, my dad presented me with a set of basic geometry problems, one of which involved finding the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle. I had a lot of trouble with this question; no matter what I tried, I couldn’t see a feasible way to crack the enigma that was basic geometry. As much as I didn’t want to, I finally admitted defeat, and my dad gladly taught me the Pythagorean theorem.

I was in disbelief. While the actual theorem is not at all advanced, the realization that the simple Pythagorean theorem could simplify the seemingly impossible question I had struggled with for so long made me even more...

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