# My Friend's Math Talent: A Story of Amazement

• gary350
In summary: He was flunking math. I got him to take a real math class and he got a 3.0 GPA.In summary, this person's friend can do math problems in his head as fast as he can read the numbers off of paper.
gary350

I took math every year in college, I took every math class except imaginary number. I have never been about to add 2 digit numbers in my head. LOL. I can do math on paper or calculator but not I my head.

There should be a special job, or special place in this world for this guy. What do you think? Is this amazing or not???

Of course, this is quite amazing. Often people with savant syndrome can do these feats of math. However there is also a class of people who can do this with even more creative problems.

There was a BBC documentary one time that investigated this guys calendar math skills. He wanted to know whether he was a savant or something else. After testing the researchers told him he was in that special class. They had given him a calendar problem that was not algorithmic and yet he was able to rattle off the dates as fast as he could speak.

Some folks with this special math ability are synthetes ie they associate numbers with colors, shapes or smells or some other sensory phenomena and then use it to compute the answers. However its not clear how they can do this and its completely different for each person. The only common denominator is that the areas neighbor one another in the brain and there seems to be cross communication going on between these areas giving rise to this special skill.

There is also the Tractenberg arithmetic rules which can be taught to anyone that allows you to do multiplication of large number without the need for summing the intermediate results. Summing is embedded in the method. The original goal of the system was to eliminate use of multiplication tables and the associated method of multiplying with each digit and then summing the shifted intermediate values to get the answer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trachtenberg_system

There's a beautiful movie called Gifted where the young star learned the system for the movie. SHe portrayed an undiscovered math prodigy protected by her uncle from the external forces of expectation and failure who had destroyed her mother leading to her mother committing suicide.

Personally when I was in elementary school, I wanted to be smart and would sometimes compute small numbers and recite the answerback to someone who challenged me. The trick was I'd ask the kid a question and while they were thinking of the answer I did the computation and surprised them with the answer. I did this a couple of times and then felt it was better to quit while I was ahead.

I did have a friend who could in fact do this but I didn't meet him until highschool. He was an MAA champion and got on the MAA team for a competition in Europe with the British and Russians. Sadly, the US team got trounced because their training was on multiple choice test questions whereas the British and Russian kids had fill in the blanks type problems. This occurred sometime in 1967 or 68 but I never knew when. My friend later told me the story of what happened.

There's also a BBC documentary of kids training for the international math olypiad. Many of these kids are savants in math. Others are autistic and focus on math.

https://watchdocumentaries.com/beautiful-young-minds/

More on savants:

and this one on Daniel Tammet, a synthete savant who learned Icelandic in two weeks:

Lnewqban
gary350 said:
There should be a special job, or special place in this world for this guy. What do you think? Is this amazing or not???
I think "amazing" is quite strong since this is a very well known phenomenon and not even remotely unique. Rare, to be sure, but ...

jedishrfu
I'd like to see any type of math savant master the symbolic computations in QFT...

The first video reminds me of new math. My son was flunking new math in high school. I showed him the math I learned and he said, that is so easy. I told him to do his math on scratch paper then write the answers on his class quiz and tests. He got 100 on all his test but teacher marked all his answers wrong because he did not do it the new math way. We move him to a different school and he made straight A in most glasses. He got very high score on his ACT test they only care about correct answers not how you got the answer.

Last edited:
dlgoff
gary350 said:
I came across an interesting author and book considering the topic of people who think in pictures. If you look up Temple Grandin, I think she has a relatively new book called "Visual Thinking." It is about the difference modes of thinking people have. And as between the non-verbal thinkers, there are the abstract thinkers and the picture thinkers. Anyway, thought it might be of interest.

jedishrfu
Haborix said:
I came across an interesting author and book considering the topic of people who think in pictures. If you look up Temple Grandin, I think she has a relatively new book called "Visual Thinking." It is about the difference modes of thinking people have. And as between the non-verbal thinkers, there are the abstract thinkers and the picture thinkers. Anyway, thought it might be of interest.
I know about Temple Grandin. There was a movie about her 30 years ago. I did not know about her books.

I had a high school teacher that kept me after class, she wanted to know why I only answered 80 of the 100 questions on the test. I said, time ran out, I read slow. She thought speed reading had something to do with how smart people are. She noticed I had 80 out or 80 correct but she thought I should be in a special class for retards. I told her, I probably know the correct answers for the other 20 questions so she let me finish the test and I got 100. I told her, I see words but it takes me a whole second to give each word a name. I am amazed how fast other people read, I can't do that.

The man that I know that can add numbers as fast as you can read them use to drill water wells for people in 3rd world countries that had to walk or drive 30 miles every day to get water. He helped people learn to grow food. He did that for 15 years then he became a carpenter.

Last edited:
Lnewqban, gleem and Astronuc
jedishrfu said:
They had given him a calendar problem that was not algorithmic

I didn't know there could be non-algorithmic calendar problems.

Sadly, I don't remember the problem they gave the guy. It was something like list every year since some starting year where some date like February 28th fell on a Tuesday where you had to be aware of leap years and anti-leap centuries and leap four hundred years.

It meant the guy recomputed each answer. I remeber he started slow and then sped up listing the dates and they concluded that he was a genius not a savant. He supposedly gained the calendar and arithmetic talent later in life and was perplexed by it.

gary350 said:
, I see words but it takes me a whole second to give each word a name. I am amazed how fast other people read, I can't do that.
Same here. I hated courses that required a lot of reading like social sciences and literature. It took too much time to get decent grades in those courses.

gary350 and jedishrfu
"I told her, I see words but it takes me a whole second to give each word a name. I am amazed how fast other people read, I can't do that."

I feel for you.
I'm at the other extreme: Often, I don't consciously 'read' as words, sentences, even paragraphs, but devour text at a few saccades per page, sorta convert it to a fast-forward movie 'on the fly'...

Upside, I'll happily trawl a shelf of technical books, confident I'll spot anything 'relevant' and/or 'interesting'...
Down-side, my 'abstracts' hit a 'glass ceiling' at mild calculus...

gary350 said:
There should be a special job, or special place in this world for this guy. What do you think? Is this amazing or not???
Yes, it is amazing, and 60-70 years ago, there was a special job for people like this. The job title was “computer.” Unfortunately for your friend, electronic computers have taken the place of flesh and blood computers, and they can do billions of calculations per second, not dozens.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_(occupation)

PeroK
Not to worry just a few EMP events and the job opportunities for savants and people with sliderules or abacii will be plentiful not to mention artists, musicians, actors and storytellers.

Lnewqban
gary350 said:
I have a friend that can do math problems in his head as fast as I can read the numbers off of paper.
I worked with an old engineer (80 years old!) who could do relatively simple calculations mentally and tell me the proper result before I could do the same with a hand calculator.
He always finished first and never made a mistake.

He did not have any special job, but while working together, he could do mental accurate calculations each time an engineering estimate (horsepower, BTUh, area, cost, pipe diameter, material, duct size, etc.) was needed during technical meetings.

When you get a job after college you use some of what you learned and what you never use you slowly forget. Use it or loose it. I love technology and I love to learn. Some people read paper back books, some read novels, I read technology books. I am having fun online with a math challenge forum. I have forgotten a lot of math but it is all coming back. Math is fun.

#### Attachments

• catriona-2.webp
8.3 KB · Views: 77
Last edited:
jedishrfu and Lnewqban
For decades I would habitually do calculations in my head. I'd do prime factorizations of numbers that I saw. It was just to occupy my mind.

I can always do simple things faster than someone with a calculator. It's just practice and basic tricks. The same situations occur over and over again and one memorizes intermediate results that are often seen.

I suppose idiot savants who do nothing all day but factor prime numbers get to be pretty good at it.

Lnewqban
4-figure log etc tables...
I'd a precious book of 5-figure tables, but it got 'borrowed'...
And we were so jealous of the kid who'd 'inherited' a big, circular 'Engineering' slide-rule: It never 'fell off the end'.
FWIW, nor did mine, which had Pi-offset markings on reverse...
But a neighbour's 'student exchange' girl could work an abacus faster than 'blitz-backgammon'...

## What is "My Friend's Math Talent: A Story of Amazement" about?

"My Friend's Math Talent: A Story of Amazement" is a narrative that follows the journey of a young individual who discovers and develops an extraordinary talent for mathematics. The story explores the challenges and triumphs faced by the protagonist, highlighting the impact of mentorship, perseverance, and the joy of mastering complex mathematical concepts.

## Who is the target audience for this book?

The target audience for "My Friend's Math Talent: A Story of Amazement" includes young readers, particularly those in middle school and high school, as well as educators and parents who are interested in inspiring a love for mathematics in children. The book is also suitable for anyone who enjoys stories of personal growth and academic achievement.

## What themes are explored in the book?

The book explores several themes, including the importance of recognizing and nurturing talent, the value of hard work and dedication, the role of mentorship in personal development, and the excitement and beauty of mathematical discovery. It also touches on themes of friendship, self-confidence, and overcoming obstacles.

## How does the protagonist's talent for math develop throughout the story?

Throughout the story, the protagonist's talent for math develops through a combination of natural aptitude, dedicated practice, and the guidance of supportive mentors. The protagonist encounters various mathematical challenges and puzzles, each of which helps to sharpen their skills and deepen their understanding. As the story progresses, the protagonist gains confidence and begins to tackle increasingly complex problems, ultimately achieving remarkable success.

## What message does the book convey about the importance of mathematics?

The book conveys the message that mathematics is not only a valuable and practical skill but also a source of wonder and intellectual fulfillment. It emphasizes that with the right support and determination, anyone can develop a strong aptitude for math. The story aims to inspire readers to approach mathematics with curiosity and enthusiasm, recognizing its significance in both academic and everyday contexts.

Replies
15
Views
1K
Replies
16
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
449
Replies
4
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
17
Views
1K
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
24
Views
7K