John Urschel Talks About Why More Young Kids Don’t Love Math

journal of computational mathematics

Ask John Urschel to define himself, and this is the sort of answer you’ll get: “John Urschel, pro football player, mathematician, professional mathlete.”

To put it mildly, Urschel is a rare commodity. He’s 6 feet 3 inches tall, a 308-pound offensive guard for the Seattle Seahawks and a man who once stated matter-of-factly that he loves “hitting people.” But he’s also a 24-year-old with ambitions of obtaining a Ph.D. in mathematics after his football career ends. (Specifically, he hopes to continue his research in numerical partial differential equations and machine learning, if that means anything to you.)

By the look of things, that won’t be impossible. Urschel already holds a master’s degree in mathematics from Penn State, where he earned a 4.0 grade point average. And last December, he and a team of researchers submitted a paper entitled, “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.” The paper was accepted into Journal of Computational Mathematics earlier this year.

A portion of Urschel’s paper, “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.”

Urschel understands that he’s a bit of a statistical oddity, but he doesn’t think that his two passions stand in contradiction with one another. “There’s no contradiction when it comes to [my love of] football and math,” he told The Huffington Post in a recent sit-down conversation.

“I think they’re complimentary in a sense,” he said. “Football really speaks to this competitive side of me, this aggressive side, whereas mathematics speaks to this side of me where I’m really curious and want to know why.”

But Urschel knows not everyone shares his passion for math, and he believes he knows why, too: We’re not properly explaining to young children where a love math can take —> Read More