The past is murky.
My beginnings in math can probably be traced back to the “Murderous Maths” series of popular math books, which attracted me with their humorous yet clear presentation of mathematical concepts. My mom is a math teacher, and my earliest memory of mathematical beauty was when she taught me basic calculus. I learnt how bringing two points on a curve together allows the line joining them to approximate a tangent, and how that led to the limit of the difference quotient.
I began doing math research in 2008 on origami math, specifically the origami design of certain polyhedra. I generalized the polyhedra that could be folded in the following years in more projects, culminating in a project that won awards at the Intel ISEF 2011. I’d describe that research as applied math though, since I was constantly formulating algorithms and calculations for the sake of the research target of polyhedral origami design.
My pure math research began around the end of 2010, after the 5OSME conference. I had received a copy of the 3OSME proceedings, and I read a paper by Thomas C. Hull on mathematically modelling 3D origami. That paper was my first exposure to affine transformation matrices. I was amazed by how all the 3D affine transformations could be elegantly represented as matrices and could be manipulated efficiently, and that sparked off my interest in Matrices and Linear Algebra, which I also learned in school the same year.
Since then, my “research style” has been to construct my own algebras, often involving matrices, and mine their interesting properties. My explorations are like an Abstract form of Art, where logic is my canvas and mathematical objects are my paints. I formulated another analogy of math as a complex, intertwining cave system, and it’s really fun to run around the tunnels and check out all the beautiful scenery (full analogy in the “Math and Caves” essay).
As an amateur math explorer, my efficiency and potential in research could be raised by learning about the modern status and techniques of math. For now, I’ll still keep exploring and having fun.