'I started a YouTube channel to help people learn higher mathematics'

Rudra Kamat

Mumbai, India

Why did you choose Cornell?

person writing on chalkboard

The pursuit of a theory of everything — a grand, unified theory of physics that would unveil the greatest secrets of the universe — lured me to Cornell. I believe that such a theory would have groundbreaking implications across all facets of our existence and that the interdisciplinary effort required to research it embodies the “any person, any study” philosophy of Cornell. One of my relatives, Gopal Kamat, received an MBA from the Johnson School of Management in 1976. He often lauds the flexibility of the curriculum, which afforded him the opportunity to take courses in international law and Asian ceramics while obtaining his degree. I, too, was keen to build on my extracurricular interests at Cornell. I’ve been writing poems since I was in the fifth grade, having compiled a catalog of over 150 written in both English and French. I wanted to continue this passion at Rainy Day (Literary Magazine), where my ideas could be enriched by the sensibilities of diverse yet similarly passionate peers. At Jazz+, meanwhile, I wanted to explore my passion for jazz music as a pianist. The confluence of all my interests and the gateway to my aspirations, Cornell beckoned me on a journey of delight and discovery, empowered by the vision of Ezra Cornell.

What was your favorite class and why?  

My favorite class at Cornell was SANSK 1132, Elementary Sanskrit II, because I always wanted to learn Sanskrit, as a part of my Indian heritage. The professor was very knowledgable about linguistics and classical languages and often explained why a certain noun or verb form had evolved that way, thereby also appealing to my scientific mindset, being a math major. To top this, we embarked on translating Indian epics such as the Mahābhārata and the Bhagavad Gītā. Despite not being a requisite course for my major, I found it to be a great filler and stress reliever during my final semester when I was stressing about postgraduate applications while also learning a beautiful language like Sanskrit.

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you? 

person holding cricket bat

My main extracurricular activity was playing cricket at the Cornell Cricket Club. I started getting interested in cricket during my sophomore year when I was going through a tough time and took to playing a cricket video game. I soon realised the beauty of the game, understanding and noticing the underlying physical principles that I had learnt about in physics courses, in action. I enthusiastically joined the Cricket Club at Cornell, wanting to play the game in real life, where I was amazed by the mechanics of swing and spin bowling manifest while also enjoying nail-biting games at the Cornell Premier League, organized by the club. I only got more regular over the next semesters, even doing a mini-project on the fluid dynamics of swing bowling. 

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?    

person standing by fountain

I started a YouTube channel, 'Gamma Digamma' during COVID times to help people like me from the community learn higher mathematics such as calculus, on their own. Being at Cornell and taking part in online YouTuber competitions made me reach 1,000 subscribers. The Cornell memory I treasure the most is the channel being recognized by my peers. While I was eating in the Cornell dining hall, some students approached me and thanked me for the help the YouTube channel had provided them during their AP exams and introductory courses at Cornell. This acknowledgement warmed my heart and motivated me because it made me realize the impact I made in helping the community, not only at Cornell, but all over the world. The YouTube channel is still active as I continue to make videos teaching advanced topics in mathematics and physics. 

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

The accomplishment I am the most proud of is discovering a new mathematical result, under the guidance of my senior thesis supervisor Prof. Reyer Sjamaar. It meant a lot to me because I had struggled through the math course structures at Cornell and as a result lost confidence in my abilities. The new result not only restored my confidence, since the original conjectural condition for the result to hold was proved to be sufficient despite great odds, but also because it combined both my academic interests of math and physics, having some applications in physics. For me, this is my ultimate achievement at Cornell since I have exceeded my own expectations about myself and not only my academic but also my intuitive abilities.

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