You can count on Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash, “the fastest human calculator in the world”
Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash, 21, known as “the world’s fastest human calculator”, talks about her love for numbers and her ed-tech startup Exploring Infinities
Does the mere mention of math give you jitters? Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash attributes this fear to the curriculum suitable for all sizes of Indian schools. He should know that, given that he won the 2020 International Mathematical Olympiad. Bhanu is known as “the fastest human calculator in the world” because he broke the record of Shakuntala Devi (the record of adding a two-digit number to itself as many times as possible in 15 seconds), but asserts that speed is not the only criterion for appreciating digits.
The 21-year-old math wizard from Andhra Pradesh holds four world records, 50 Limca records for his ability to solve complex math problems at high speed. He was dubbed the ‘Usain Bolt of Mathematics’ by the BBC after the Olympic Gold Medal at the Mind Sports Olympics 2020, UK. It is therefore only natural that he has several well-paying job offers from multinational companies and major political parties. However, such offers fail to attract or impress him.
Bhanu’s goal is to erase the phobia of math and make more people understand and analyze numbers. To this end, he launched Exploring Infinities, a math education with a vision for students to apply math in real life and not just to improve their grades. Exploring Infinities aims to make math fun and multidisciplinary, and engages students through online lessons and games. Bhanu believes that a good understanding of mathematics can enable a student to do well in any subject or profession of their choice.
Bhanu said, âI had two choices as a math lover – to be the face of math or the face of math phobia. I chose to be the face of math and I want to train people to love numbers through their various interests. Exploring Infinities is by no means a program-driven tutorial platform. It is a platform for exploring numbers in many creative ways. That is why apart from students, there are also adults exploring numbers. Adults who have signed up say they want to give numbers a second chance and see what went wrong when they learned math in school or in college. âIt aims to show the social scientific application of mathematics in all aspects of our daily lives.
Rely on himself
A former student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Public School, Hyderabad, and St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, Bhanu does not like to call himself “self-taught”. âIt seems to be amazing to me. I am “self-taught”. It all started playing with puzzles when a head injury forced me to stay home for a year. To keep me busy, my father bought me jigsaw puzzles. I played with them and found it extremely engaging. As I grew up and started doing shows and breaking records, I started to understand the numbers better. How numbers are presented to children is extremely important, as understanding numbers goes a long way in shaping the way one thinks. If I hadn’t been a mathematician, I’m sure I would have been a historian.
As a lover of numbers, Bhanu thinks math can be “cool”; it just has to be adapted according to the student. âWe are designing ‘experiential math learning modules’ online that make math fun and help students understand it in the best possible way. Three in four students around the world are afraid of math. This is mainly because math is irrelevant and interesting. The ramifications of not understanding math run very deep for people of all walks of life and we aim to change the way math is viewed. We believe this revolution is possible by creating the most cohesive and intelligent artificial intelligence (AI) -based math learning ecosystem. Thereafter, we also aspire to establish ourselves as the global thought leaders in mathematics education and establish a huge priority in AI-assisted mathematics learning, âsays Bhanu.
Bhanu also runs Vision Maths, a global movement he leads to promote math as a culture and sport, and to make it a fun learning experience.