How did I come into the wonderful world of mathematics? Per my memory:

I was a Cold War kid. At the time I was a small child, school systems all over the US were trying to spot the children who later in life could lead the intellectual efforts against the Soviet Union. Did I know much about geopolitics when I was in elementary school? Not really, but the adults around me discovered that I was something of a math prodigy. My talent was that I could multiply two-digit (and occasionally, three-digit) numbers in my head.

When I got into my “later years” (4th through 6th grade), I was exposed to the New Math. Per Wikipedia, “New Math emphasized mathematical structure through abstract concepts like set theory and number bases other than 10.” What is a base, and why use other bases? Does anybody really care if 5+3=10 in base 8? None of this made a whole lot of sense to me until I was first exposed to computers – and that everything we do today that can be described as “digital” is entirely dependent on base 2!

Finally, one thing I did not like in elementary school was doing word problems (also known as story problems) – my math was a lot better than my English, and it was the English that usually tripped me up. It’s amazing how things change when you are a grown-up – I do all types of puzzles, and one of my favorites is logic puzzles, which are souped-up word problems!