Author: Charlotte Rougier

Applied in: Winter 2015

University Offers: Oxford, Imperial College, Warwick, Bath

For me, Mathematics is all about creativity, exploration and discovery. That's what makes it exciting and challenging.

I was impressed by the lecture "Birth of a Theorem" given by the Fields Medal winner Cedric Villani at the Royal Institution last April because of his enthusiasm in research and his desire to make his work accessible. The most compelling aspect of his speech was his analogy between the study of Mathematics and adventure, with challenges, failures and successes. The lecture and subsequent readings triggered in me an interest in taking the initiative to explore areas beyond what has already been proven.

"Fermat's Last Theorem" by Simon Singh and the square root of -1, described in "17 equations that changed the world" by Ian Stewart, captivated me. The story of Fermat's equation, based on modular forms and elliptic curves, showed me that building bridges between mathematical concepts and between mathematicians from different eras is essential. I also particularly enjoy the idea of proof and discovered how both proof by contradiction and by induction were used to solve Fermat's equation. The square root of -1 intrigued me as I realised that enigmatic numbers could turn out to have unexpected properties. The fact that it can unite both numbers e and pi in a single elegant equation, Euler's equation, drew my attention. Whilst I was particularly looking forward to studying analysis at university, this also developed my interest in algebra.

Following this line of thought, I deliberately sought out opportunities to explore what researchers currently study. I was offered two one-week work experiences in two different laboratories of mathematical research at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris last February and April. Among all the areas being covered by the first team, some questions really caught my interest. For example, how satellites transmit signals to GPS devices and how these devices know how far away we are from satellites. I also discovered intriguing properties of prime numbers, like Fermat's Little Theorem. This illustrates the gripping challenge of finding logical relationships between numbers, something I have always enjoyed. The second team focused on Statistics and I contributed to the analysis of linear regression with PhD students. Belonging to a team in such atmosphere of reflection and cooperation during those two weeks confirmed my early determination to study Mathematics.

In fact, my interest in this subject has, for many years, driven my academic choices. I have chosen the scientific section with additional Mathematics. I regularly take part in Mathematics competitions. For instance, I won a Silver medal in the Intermediate Maths Challenge in 2013. I have also followed the English AS and A Level Mathematics syllabus and FP1 outside school to practice this subject from a different perspective. In addition, following a recommendation by my teacher, I tutored a student in the year below in Mathematics over the last year and a half. His average grade increased by 50%. Tutoring leads me to carefully consider the best method to tackle problems logically and rigorously and improves my ability to transfer reasoning.

Outside school, I have been determined to push my limits. I grasped opportunities to demonstrate my competitive spirit, my leadership skills and my enthusiasm for new experiences. I was one of two girls in my school selected for an international football tournament in Johannesburg during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Last year, I captained my team during the International Youth Games, a four days sport competition. I have enjoyed playing tennis for twelve years and I am now ranked 7.2.

In summary, I am extremely motivated and determined to study Mathematics. It clearly fulfils my ambition to explore an intriguing field which presents limitless opportunities while keeping me challenged, captivated and exhilarated.

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