Which Countries Win the International Mathematical Olympiads

IMOI was asked on twitter how students of Indian origin do in the maths equivalent of the US spelling bee contests. (I had written a blog post on how students of Indian origin appear to have cornered the market on US spelling bee contests.)

I guess they do well in math too. I did a bit of searching on the web and here’s what I found.  Continue reading

Isaac Asimov on Life-long learning

Isaac Asimov, (born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov in Russia in 1920, died in New York in 1992), was a towering intellect. He wrote or edited over 500 fiction and non-fiction books, mainly on science and technology related topics. I place him in the same very tiny class of thinkers as Arthur C Clarke, another science fiction author and furturist. People like him can see farther than average people like you and I. Here’s a quote about learning. It’s from an interview he gave to Bill Moyers in 1988. That was before the world wide web and its phenomenal storehouse of content.
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Indians Make it in the USA, not in India

Prime Minister Modi is visiting the SF Bay area this weekend. Entreaties to “Make in India” will echo all around. Sadly, little attention has been given to why Indians themselves are unable to make in India, or even make it in India. Indians make it anywhere except in India. Particularly, Indians make it in the US. They are immensely successful as entrepreneurs and as top level managers in major corporations in the US. Why?

I wrote this in February earlier this year. Here it is, for the record.
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Universal Literacy

It stands to reason that compared to the poor, rich people educate their children more. That’s because they have more wealth and can spend more on education. Rich countries therefore have a more educated population compared to the poor, which naturally implies that their populations are more literate. But since at some time in the past every currently rich and literate country was poor and illiterate, it’s interesting to ask which came first — the literacy or the wealth.
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Make India first to “Make in India”

Let me tell you a story. It is about a friend who is building a school in India. Motivated by idealism to do something for India, some years ago he decided that he would build an excellent K-12 school. An expatriate for a few years in a developed nation, he thought it was time for him to “give back” something to his native land. Knowing of my interest in education, he asked me to advise him and I did as a friend without any pecuniary interest in the venture. I kept in touch. Just the other day he called me from India to tell me how things were going. Here’s what I heard. It is both instructive and depressing.
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A New Kind of Test

TIME has a brief piece on an interesting change in what the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) tests. “Students will no longer be rewarded for the rote memorization of semi-obscure definitions. Instead, the words that the SAT will highlight in vocabulary questions will be “high utility” words that students are likely to encounter in life and reading beyond those four hours in the testing location. Even the most studied students won’t be able to breeze through vocab sections, matching a word with definition B by reflex; they’ll have to read and gather from the passage exactly what a word means.”

The IITs are not really what they are cracked up to be

It is time once again to lay that old chestnut to rest. The specious claim that the IITs are better than some of the best universities in the world is beyond slack-jawed silliness. I am reminded of that by this tweet by my friend @KiranKS

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