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Christopher Ryba in Caucasus

Posted Monday 16 November 2009

Christopher Ryba is a student of the Hutchins School, Hobart, who has been identified as a talented student via his performances in the Australian Mathematics Competition and Australian Intermediate Mathematics Olympiad and is now in the train-on group vying for selection in Australia's 2010 IMO team.

Being in Hobart he was also able to enter the International Mathematics Tournament of Towns, via an enrichment group run by Dr Kumudini Dharmadasa and after achieving Australia's highest score in this event received an invitation to attend a camp in August 2009 held in the Caucasus Mountains, working with top Russian students and students from a number of other countries.

[Christopher]

Christopher, wearing an AMT Dirichlet pigeon-hole T Shirt, is shown working in one of the sessions. In the foreground is veteran Ukraine mathematician Alex Tolpygo, who was a member of the Jury.

Here is his story:

I had been invited to participate in the XXI Summer Conference of the Tournament of Towns in Teberda, Karachaevo-Cherkesskaya Republika, Russia, from 2 to 10 August 2009.

The conference was organised by the Moscow Centre for Continuous Mathematical Education. None of my teachers, Dr Kumudini Dharmadasa or Mr Hudson could travel with me, yet I could not go on my own. Fortunately my Dad was very keen to go with me to Russia.

The participants from Russia and several other countries including Australia, Belarus, Canada, Germany, Iran, Malaysia and Serbia met in Moscow on 1 August and travelled by train for 33 hours to Teberda, which is only 25 km from the Abkhazian border in the northen Caucasus and 1300 metres above sea level. The trip Moscow-Teberda was extremely long.

[Group Photo]

Christopher is in the centre, towards the rear, wearing a white T Shirt, in this group photo.

The organisers put considerable effort into making our time in Teberda very enjoyable. During the next 10 days my daily routine was more or less as follows:

wake up - food - maths - food -maths - food - samovar - sleep

However, my peers and I liked it very much. It was great to spend this time solving exciting mathematical problems.

[Samovar]

Samovar was a "tea-party" where tea prepared in a samovar (shown above) was served. It had a distinct atmosphere that I never experienced before.

We were solving problems in teams. My group consisted of six students: three from Germany, one from Canada, one from Malaysia and I successfully applied power series to the arithmetics of languages. Other students were solving problems of Excircles and dozens of points, Magic graphs, Tropical geometry, Pavements, colourings and tiling groups.

[Caucasus Mountains]

We also had some time for an excursion to the magnificent Caucasus Mountains (shown above). To have a better view of the glaciers we climbed to 3000m above sea level.

On the last day of our conference there were lectures on Lobachevsky's geometry, Malfatti's problem and on Interlocking structures. In the evening we took the train back to Moscow. There were many farewells in several languages and many sad moments when saying good-bye.

Christopher Ryba