Interview: Fernando, Lucas, and Rafael

Fernando Lenarduzzi, Lucas Bentivenha, and Rafael Rocha are visiting from Brazil. All of them come from the Universidade Estadual Paulista “Julio de Mesquita Filho”.

(L to R) Lucas, Rafael, and Fernando on Spiral Staircase

Along with other student researchers, Fernando works with the Symmetries of Euclidean Tessellations and Their Covers group supervised by Isabel Hubard, Mark Mixer, Daniel Pellicer, and Asia Ivic Weiss.

Lucas and Rafael are members of the Mathematical Finance group supervised by Matheus Grasselli and Oleksandr Romanko.

Upon arrival to Toronto they were impressed by the politeness of the local drivers and the absence of traffic. Fernando said that “compared to Rio, Toronto does not have traffic problems at all.” Rafael was surprised to see that such a heavily urbanized city as Toronto is full of trees and parks. Lucas pointed out that Rio and Sao Paolo are very similar to Toronto

Fernando’s description of the Brazilian education system explained the reasons behind their strong mathematical background. Brazillian students need to choose a specialised high school after grade nine. Their options include mathematics, arts, and military. These schools prepare the students for university by focusing on specific subjects.

In order to get into a university, one needs to write a standardized test. The students who succeed on the test have a chance to enter public universities. The students who do not do well can go to private universities where the quality of education is lower. Fernando, Lucas and Rafael all managed to get into public universities.

They mentioned that it is not uncommon for Brazilian students to use textbooks in foreign languages such as Spanish, French, or English. “One only needs to learn the basics of the language. Math is international”, said Lucas. Often multiple textbooks are used in a single course.

Fernando had a chance to work with a research group before, but for Lucas and Rafael this is their first group project. Both of them are amazed to see the math behind the financial crisis. “Even highly educated people sometimes say that financial crisis is unpredictable. It is amazing to learn that we can stay in control”, said Lucas.

Interview conducted by Mariya Boyko

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