I live and breathe for all types of art, so why exactly did I choose to study mathematics instead? I believe maths and art have much in common. Though maths relies heavily on being rational and analytical, it also commands creativity. Sometimes solutions require you to think outside the box.

Why did I choose maths?

This is a question I am often asked, and often even ask myself. If you know me, you will know how much I love art and music. Creativity drives me, so to pursue such an analytical discipline at university was a surprising path to take. Whilst I agree that mathematics is incredibly logical, I also believe that maths in itself is an art.

When I was in Year 3 in primary school, we were learning subtraction. One day, I distinctly recall 35 subtract 19 written on the whiteboard. With a little bit of effort this equation was easy to solve, even back then. At least until my teacher, Ms Henry, switched things up. She erased the equation, and instead wrote 19 subtract 35.

I remember staring at those numbers, stumped. Most of my classmates insisted you must simply swap the numbers back around and carry on the subtraction as usual. Ms Henry must have noticed the perplexed look on my face because she’d asked me what I thought. Intuitively I knew there was more to the problem than flipping the numbers, but I could not quite put my finger on it. That was the day I got my first glimpse of negative numbers, but I also got a glimpse of much more. It was my first encounter with a problem that seemed unsolvable.

Sometimes now, as I am about to enter my ‘Year 3’ of university, it is as though nothing has changed. I still find myself confronted by supposedly unsolvable problems, when really, I’m just missing a part of the picture. That is why I love maths; you always need to think outside the box. Mathematics requires imagination and innovation beyond the realm of what you know, just like art. It’s about finding the right notes to resolve the melody, or uncovering patterns, structure, and beauty amidst the chaos. You always need to be a bit creative, and that is precisely why I chose maths.

Macey Lawson
University of Adelaide

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