• Question: What was the thing you found most difficult in maths in high school? Are you good at it now?

    Asked by josiez on 27 Jan 2020.
    • Photo: Giuseppe Cotugno

      Giuseppe Cotugno answered on 27 Jan 2020:

      When I was at high school, my studies focused on humanistic subjects: history, philosophy, Italian, English, Latin and Greek literature etc.

      I wasn’t exposed to math as much as students which pursued a different curriculum (in Italy, every high school as a pre-set curriculum which is the same nationwide and cannot be changed by individual schools). Back then it was all right, as the most complicated thing we were doing was trigonometry.

      When I started engineering, and I was exposed to advanced math, I had a knowledge deficit which I had to compensate myself with extra work.

      The most challenging things for me was trying to see an equation in its individual constituent parts rather than as a whole. This is a key skill you need in algebra, you can’t work out how to factor polynomials if you can’t spot the individual parts that can’t be aggregated. Since I studied humanistic subjects for 5 years I wasn’t prepared for that.

      Luckly, with a lot of study I managed to overcome this and to get a bachelor and a master in engineering and a PhD in robotics. So I can say that if you are really stubborn and determinate you can overcame most difficulties.