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# Unveiling the CMO Champion: An Exclusive Interview with Warren Bei

Competitions
June 2024 (Vol. 56, No. 3)

Warren Bei from Rockridge Secondary in West Vancouver (BC) has been crowned the 2024 Canadian Mathematical Olympiad (CMO) Champion! This remarkable feat is accentuated by the fact that Warren is only in the 10th grade and has secured medals in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 CMOs. Warren has also represented Canada in 3 International Mathematical Olympiads (IMO) from 2021 to 2023, clinching 2 gold medals and one silver. To provide insight into the mind of a budding mathematician and his vision for his future in math, we sat down for an interview with Warren.

Congratulations Warren! Another big win for you on the CMO. After winning three golds and a silver in the last four years, do the competitions seem to be getting easier for you each year?

I believe all mathematical problems are intriguing challenges, and those that happen to be in the competitions I write are no exception. The ideas that they task me with rediscovering never cease to amaze me, so I am always excited for hours of fun thinking about new problems.

What inspired you to start competing in math competitions?

Ever since I was a child I had liked logic puzzles and scientific books, so one day my parents decided to test my mathematical skills by registering me for a random competition. I did quite well, which began my journey in mathematical competitions.

What has been your most challenging math problem or competition, and how did you overcome it?

I believe problem difficulty is highly subjective, because a problem is difficult if and only if one presently does not know how to solve it. To solve any difficult problem, one must rely on intuition to generate ideas and keep trying different approaches.

Are you focused entirely on mathematics or also interested in other STEM areas?

Other STEM areas I enjoy are physics and computer science because their problem solving processes are quite similar to that of mathematics. Physics is about formulating situations so that the laws of physics can be applied, and programming is about finding ways to apply known algorithms to problems that appear unsolvable. Both of these subjects are therefore axiomatic systems.

Do you have some ideas about what you might want to study or do after high school? Any big goals? Do you plan on pursuing a career in mathematics?

Since the world is always changing, I aim to work forward from the present rather than backwards from a fixed goal. While studying mathematics and computer science in university would probably be the best choice for me, presently I do not know what mathematicians actually do, so I will leave the question of whether to pursue mathematics research for later.

How has participating in CMS math competitions influenced your academic and personal growth?

Competitions taught me to always be a creative, curious learner. They introduced me to various new mathematical subjects and taught me problem solving skills, as well as providing opportunities for me to meet like-minded students.

Who do you admire in mathematics? Do you have role models?

I admire recreational mathematician and writer Martin Gardner, whose articles showed how various mathematical topics can be interconnected. Two of my favourite books are Winning Ways and GEB, because they weave simple ideas into entire theories. As John Horton Conway said, “when I discovered surreal numbers, I realized that playing games IS math.”

What advice would you give to aspiring math competitors who are just starting their journey?

For every seemingly unmotivated solution to a problem, there is a deeper insight that makes it self-evident.