education Hyderabad

You can count on Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash, ‘the world’s fastest human calculator’

Does the very mention of mathematics give you jitters? Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash blames the made-to-fit-all-size syllabus of Indian schools for this fear. He should know, considering he won the International maths Olympiad 2020. Bhanu is known as ‘the world’s fastest human calculator’ as he beat the record of Shakuntala Devi (the record of adding a two digit number to itself as many times as possible in 15 seconds), but avers that speed is not the only criteria to appreciate numbers.

The 21-year-old maths wizard who hails from Andhra Pradesh, holds four world records, 50 Limca Records for his skill in solving complex mathematics problems at top speeds. He has been dubbed the ‘Usain Bolt of mathematics’ by BBC after the Olympic Gold Medal at the Mind Sports Olympics 2020, United Kingdom. So it is natural that he has several high-paying job offers from multinational companies and leading political parties. However, such offers fail to lure or impress him.

Bhanu’s goal is to erase maths phobia and make more people understand and analyse numbers. Towards this end, he started Exploring Infinities, a maths education with a vision to make students apply maths in real life and not just to improve grades. Exploring Infinities focuses on making maths fun and multidisciplinary, and engages students through online classes and games. Bhanu feels a proper understanding maths can make a student do well in any subject or profession one chooses.

Bhanu says, “I had two choices as a maths lover — to be the face of maths or the face of maths phobia. I chose to be the face of maths and want to train people to love numbers through their various interests. Exploring Infinities is not by any means a tutorial platform run by any syllabus. It is a platform to explore numbers in many creative ways. This is why apart from students, we also find grown-ups exploring numbers. The grown-ups who have enrolled say they want to give numbers a second chance and see what went wrong when they learnt maths in school or college/ To make it simple and interesting and keep the students focussed, Exploring Infinities uses music, history and art.” He aims to show the social scientific application of mathematics in all aspects of our day-to-day life.

Counting on himself

An alumnus of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Public School, Hyderabad, and St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, Bhanu does not like to call himself ‘self-taught’. “It seems to be prodigious for me. I am ‘self-learned’. It all started with playing with puzzles when a head injury forced me to stay at home for a year. To keep me occupied my father bought me some puzzles. I played with them and found it extremely engaging. As I grew up and started doing shows and breaking records I started having a better understanding of numbers. How numbers are introduced to children is extremely important, because understanding numbers goes a long way in how one thinks. If I was not a mathematician, I am sure I would’ve been a historian.”

As a lover of numbers, Bhanu believes that maths can be ‘cool’; it just has to be tailored according to the student. “We design online ‘experiential maths learning modules’ which make maths fun and help students understand it in the best possible pathway. Three out of every four students across the world are scared of maths. This is mainly because maths is not relatable and interesting. Ramifications of not understanding maths are very profound for people in any walk of life and we aim to change how maths is perceived. We believe that this revolution is possible by building the most cohesive, intelligent Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven maths learning ecosystem. Subsequently, we also aspire to establish ourselves as the global thought leaders of maths education and set huge precedence in AI-aided maths learning,” explains Bhanu.

Bhanu also heads Vision maths a global movement headed by him in promoting maths as a culture and sport, and to make it a fun learning experience.


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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 8:10:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/neelakantha-bhanu-fastest-human-calculator-math/article35540453.ece

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