Leonard’s Maths Journey

By Leonard Whitehead, Federation University

My interest in optimisation first started when I was still in high school. The idea of being able to maximise or minimise anything seemed almost fanatical to me. Later I applied for the joint degree in Mathematical Science & Education at Federation University with the hopes of achieving two goals. The first goal was to deepen my knowledge in mathematics, the second is to successfully attain a career that will let me travel and share my knowledge of mathematics with the world. My first goal was achieved.

After coming to the belief that my knowledge in mathematics had reached the pinnacle, I was attracted to the research scholarship provided by AMSI. This scholarship was an eye opener, I discovered that I knew very little of mathematics. The papers written by my professor seemed almost incomprehensible to me; it almost felt as if I was staring at a foreign language. So I decided to start all over again. I revised everything I knew of calculus and then dedicated some of my time studying functional analysis and convex analysis. I had learnt of the many different spaces such as the Banach, normed and metric spaces etc. After my personal study was complete I felt I was ready to tackle the alien language of mathematics again.

Soon after I started learning and comprehending what a subdifferential was, how to calculate these subdifferentials and the final task, creating the illustrations, the presentation for AMSI was due. It was quite nerve wracking, but it was a wonderful and enlightening experience. I met many other students and professors and made many friends. I was shocked at the level of mathematics other students displayed and was deeply impressed; my urge to conquer mathematics grew.

I am glad I took on this research project, although it was very frustrating at times. It was a beneficial learning experiences that I will never forget.


Leonard Whitehead was one of the recipients of a 2016/17 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.

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