Learning new ways to think about math
Jody Avirgan: I read that one of your innovations as coach was bringing in people from the rest of the world to train in the U.S.
Po-Shen Loh: Yes. In fact, when I was on the team in 1999 … [we were] brought to train with the Romanians, in Romania, because the national coach of the United States at that time had grown up [there]. That was very impactful for me. It was really interesting to meet our compatriots from other countries — not in a competitive atmosphere, but a collaborative one.
Avirgan: Are there differences in the way that different countries approach mathematical thinking? I imagine that a lot of people think of math as fairly standardized and universal. So what do you actually learn from another country’s mathematicians?
Loh: You learn things in the same way that you learn from meeting another country’s “X.” Meeting someone from another country automatically broadens your worldview. And especially in the next century, which [these kids] are going to be living in, they will be living in an increasingly globalized environment. So I thought it would be good and healthy for people to start thinking of the world as something much bigger than just the United States.