This blog is about Simon, a young gifted mathematician and programmer, who had to move from Amsterdam to Antwerp to be able to study at the level that fits his talent, i.e. homeschool. Visit https://simontiger.com
Sunday at the beach, Simon was reenacting the 5 doors and a cat puzzle (he had learned this puzzle from the Mind Your Decisions channel). The puzzle is about guessing behind which door the cat is hiding in as few guesses as possible, while the cat is allowed to move one door further after every wrong guess.
“Here’s a fun fact!” Simon said all of a sudden. “If you add up all the grains of sand on all the beaches all over the world, you are going to get several quintillion sand grains or several times 10^18!” He then proceeded to try to calculate how many sand grains there might be at the beach around us…
In the evening, while having a meal by the sea, Simon challenged Dad with a Brilliant.org problem he particularly liked:
Simon’s explanation sheet (The general formulas are written by Simon, the numbers underneath the table are his Dad’s, who just couldn’t believe Simon’s counterintuitive solution at first and wanted check the concrete sums. He later accepted his defeat):
“Mom, how long would it take a supercomputer running at 10^15 additions per second to calculate the 1000th Fibonacci number?”
Simon has learned this problem from the new course he is following on Brilliant.org: Computer Science Algorithms. Simon worked it out on an A3 sketch book sheet and got the answer correct: it would take longer than the age of the Universe!
Simon has already finished the Computer Science Fundamentals course! It has been Simon’s idea to take up the courses on Brilliant.org again and he has been working independently, driven entirely by his intrinsic motivation.
The course has also inspired Simon to work on a very large scale project: record a series of tutorials where he explains all the best known sorting algorithms and comes up with the Python code for them on his RaspberryPi!
This morning Simon was crying bitterly when he thought that the equation to calculate the resistance in a video wasn’t correct. We wrote the solution down together in detail and it was correct. I suddenly knew what the stumbling block was – Simon isn’t really familiar with solving equations yet! This is one of those cases when you work top down and hit a gap. I guess equations will be the topic of his math lessons for a while now. I love it how on Brilliant.org they start teaching the concept of equation by comparing it to scales. Here is what he accomplished today: Algebra>Solving Equations> Warmup and Balancing Scales