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## The small things

This week has been hellish. I’ve felt more ill than I can ever recall feeling but because we had an external review on Thursday I dragged myself in each day, compounding the tiredness and the run down feeling that goes hand in hand with feeling crap. Today was Friday, the end of the week and the chance to try sleep some of the grogginess off was in the offing so I felt positive about it. However a couple of incidents of poor in periods 2 and 4 managed to take the sheen off it a little.

But then period 5 arrived. Period 5 Friday is one of my favourites as I teach year 12 further maths, and today we were talking topology. We were looking at route inspection problems and discussing Euler in great depth. The discussion wandered to the traveling salesman problem and how it can be mapped do all NP problems, meaning that a solution to the traveling salesman problem able to sole any in polynomial time would be enough to prove that P = NP ie that any problem that’s easy to verify can be solved quickly also and earn the mathematician in question a million dollars.

This piqued their interest no end and we had a nice discussion around the millennium prize problemsand the other great unsolved maths problems. This also led onto a discussion of Fermat and his last Theorem. It was really great to see young people so enthused about mathematics and the different types of problems involved,  and to see them trying to get their head round such complex ideas as the Riemann zeta function.

On top of this amazing fact they also completed some great work collaborating on a set of topological problems I’d set them. I ended the day felling extremely positive, and despite the week I’ve had I can’t wait to get back into it on Monday, although I do hope I feel better by then!

This post was cross posted on the blog “One good thing”, here.