I'm a high-school student finishing in December and about to pursue a career in mathematics.

In my free time, I like to ''research'' hard problems and come up with unique proofs or combine already-established proofs to come up with a beautiful solution. As a high-school student, I am obviously not researching anything of importance, but I am solving IMO (Mathematical olympiad) problems in unique ways and such, constructing beautiful reasoning behind them spanning several pages. I take great pride in my work (even though it is trivial to real mathematicians) and I would love some feedback...However, when I send my work to my professors and teachers, I always get ignored completely. I never receive anything back, even if I remind them. This is making me doubt myself and my abilities.

What on earth could be the reason for this? Do teachers loathe it when students put extra work on them like that? If so, why won't they tell me?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The down-votes are very unnecessary, to say the least. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Nov 1 '13 at 13:00
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I think you're trying too hard to impress. And the way you describe 'beautiful' or 'unique' reasoning, and I'm not saying you are, but it seems like you're boasting a bit. $\endgroup$
    – user61406
    Nov 1 '13 at 13:05
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This question seems like a rant in disguise (see the FAQ), and therefore should be closed. This has no bearing on my "crotchety"ness or my sympathy towards the OP. $\endgroup$ Nov 1 '13 at 13:05
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Paze Hang in there. You've just happened to post at a time when lots of crotchety grumpy users have been quite active. Not all of us are crotchety! Don't let anyone dampen your enthusiasm. Be patient. Chances are that those to whom you are sending your work are already up to their eyeballs in their own work. I agree with Jonathan Y (comment immediately below). $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Nov 1 '13 at 13:05
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Paze Why not post your work as questions on this site instead of sending it to professors? If you have a complete answer, you could post it as an answer to your own question. If you need guidance, just post your unfinished work in the question. Be sure to follow the rules though! $\endgroup$
    – Daniel R
    Nov 1 '13 at 13:22

I don't know which country you are from, but in the US, I doubt many HS math teachers would be able to solve math olympiad problems or would need to expend a lot of work to do so. Keep in mind their point of view and pressures.

If you feel that your work is truly unique and worthy of consideration, you may want to write up your proofs and post them on the General Math ArXiv site, where mathematicians can review your work and provide comments. Note that if you are not proving anything new, but just solving problems (albeit hard ones), then don't expect a ton of responses. Most researchers are quite focused on their work or work related to theirs, and don't have time to review problem solutions (especailly if they are already swamped with reviewing their PhD candidates work and assisting with class grading).

In general, I wouldn't take it personally. You said "your" professors...so I assume you have person-to-person contact with them..why don't you drop by after class and ask if they would be willing to meet to discuss (as opposed to just sending them something). They may not feel that the problems you work on are within their area of expertise.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. After studying mathematics for a while now I realized that high school maths teachers are indeed not comfortable with the level of mathematics that I was working at. I had a high school teacher who had a pHd in mathematical physics who reviewed some of my work and gave me a great recommendation after completing his calculus class with 100% score, based on my score and my work. This influenced my success with getting into med school which I attend now. $\endgroup$
    – Paze
    May 6 '15 at 9:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.