Just to share an inspirational story about studying Mathematics, and our very own Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 🙂
Interview of Professor Béla Bollobás, Professor and teacher of our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
I: Interviewer Y.K. Leong
B: Professor Béla Bollobás
I: I understand that you have taught our present Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
B: I certainly taught him more than anybody else in
Cambridge. I can truthfully say that he was an exceptionally
good student. I’m not sure that this is really known in
Singapore. “Because he’s now the Prime Minister,” people
may say, “oh, you would say he was good.” No, he was truly
outstanding: he was head and shoulders above the rest of
the students. He was not only the first, but the gap between
him and the man who came second was huge.
I: I believe he did double honors in mathematics and computer science.
B: I think that he did computer science (after mathematics) mostly because his father didn’t want him to stay in pure mathematics. Loong was not only hardworking, conscientious and professional, but he was also very inventive. All the signs indicated that he would have been a world-class research mathematician. I’m sure his father never realized how exceptional Loong was. He thought Loong was very good. No, Loong was much better than that. When I tried to tell Lee Kuan Yew, “Look, your son is phenomenally good: you should encourage him to do mathematics,” then he implied that that was impossible, since as a top-flight professional mathematician Loong would leave Singapore for Princeton, Harvard or Cambridge, and that would send the wrong signal to the people in Singapore. And I have to agree that this was a very good point indeed. Now I am even more impressed by Lee Hsien Loong than I was all those years ago, and I am very proud that I taught him; he seems to be doing very well. I have come round to thinking that it was indeed good for him to go into politics; he can certainly make an awful lot of difference.