Hungary has a strong culture of mathematics. It also has a rich history of mathematicians including figures such as Lovász László and Erdős Pál. Interestingly, mathematics is popular in Hungary and many opportunities exist for mathematics graduates. We have been given a generous view into Hungarian mathematical culture by Anna, Ferenc, and Zoltán.
Anna and some friends recently created a new competition for students in grades 6 to 12. They did this after noticing children who weren’t indulging in exciting math, mostly from a specific region of the country. “The competition is fun and not as serious as an Olympiad… If children can be reached when they are young they will like math more”, said Anna. Various other math competitions and camps are organized around Hungary, but urban cities have more mathematical activity for children. While in high school, Zoltán won many competitions. Ferenc is from a small town close to Szeged and children in such towns do not always have access to Hungary’s major competitions.
In terms of group research style, Zoltán and Ferenc take the position that independent thinking is of critical value in collaboration. In contrast, Anna places higher value in planning and communication. They agree that unhealthy competition ruins professional relationships and can be counterproductive.
The three Hungarians want to teach in the future and are always looking for ways to meaningfully improve the Hungarian education system.
Interview conducted by Mariya Boyko