Henrique Navas, a 1st year student of Applied Mathematics and Computation at Técnico, won one of the the gold medals at the Iberoamerican Mathematical Olympiad (IbMO) held last week in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina.
Henrique was fascinated by mathematics from an early age but he didn’t always like everything he learnt: “during compulsory education only a few things fascinated me”, he says. At that point, his curiosity and what he was discovering in some YouTube channels such as Numberphile fueled his passion for mathematics. “I personally think that mathematics can be fun, although some people may disagree.”
He always liked to solve problems and he is aware that most people like jigsaw puzzles, so it isn’t odd that he thinks that mathematics can be fun. “These olympiad challenges are like very difficult jigsaw puzzles”, he stresses. According to Henrique, mathematics has some incredible achievements and if more people were aware of that, then there would be more people who were fond of mathematics too.
“Although talent is important, I believe that what distinguished me from the other talented people was my work” he says. The participants have to solve 6 problems and according to Henrique “we must think about the techniques we can use, we scrawl equations and our attempts are often unsuccessful”, highlights the student.
“The first day went much better than the second day”, he recalls. In spite of his excellent score, the Técnico student was aware of the quality and scores of the other participants. “I realised at a certain point that my medal would depend on the jury’s decisions”, declares Henrique Navas. When he was sure that he would be one of the awarded participants he was seized by “happiness and relief”.
“Although olympiad problems are different from what I will learn from now on, the experience that I acquired and the improvement of my thinking skills will be definitely useful”, he says.