I haven’t even started classes; I was just enrolling in the Universidad Simón Bolívar (USB). I don’t remember how, but I found out there was an optional class, “Honor Math”, that I could choose instead of the regular mathematics class. It was promised it was harder and there were no extra credits nor any extra gain for it. I decided to go for the introductory presentation.
I’ve participated in Mathematics Olympiads since late elementary school; I even got a (national) gold medal in my last year of highschool, mere months before this introduction. My highschool final research project was also related to mathematics. I was curious, for I wanted to know what was college math all about.
The presentation sums up to this: Ph.D. Alfredo Ríos is teaching the class, the topics or methodologies are not like the olympiads, it’s just a different approach, focusing on deeper and more challenging concepts. I was sold. And I never regretted it.
I met amazing people, weird people, intelligent people. Alfredo turned out to be an excellent lecturer (in my opinion) and a great person.
It was just as Alfredo told us: Different. It didn’t feel particularly harder, or easier for that matter. It is just for the people, who, like me, hate mechanical methods to solve problems. Here, one is supposed to work with axioms and slowly building up the theorems of differential and integral calculus.
A note here: While the classes followed the regular topics, the “Preparadurías” (scheduled classes by a more advanced student, Santiago Palacios) in Honor Math were ridiculously far from those of regular classes, which concentrated in practicing those mechanical methods; instead, we were lectured on different, unrelated and awesome topics that didn’t matter at all towards a final grade.
Alfredo had to step down as our professor because of his sabbatical. Ph.D. Pedro Berrizbeitia, just arrived from his period as a guest professor in Spain, imparted the class. Now things got weird, as he had never taught this class before, so the topics were different this time, mostly in order and quantity, as we were taught everything from regular Math III, and more.
I met abstraction, fields, mathematically defined objects and many other things that would eventually help me a lot in upcoming classes, like the Discrete Math branch of CS.
Only three honor math trimesters seem too little for all of us, but as from Math IV on the different majors get different irregular schedules, it was never possible to impart a so-called Honor Math IV. That’d have been awesome for me, since I almost failed Math IV, due to my own lack of interest and laziness towards that horribly boring class.