The Art of Math

The Art of Math

Renowned mathematician and social entrepreneur Dr. Poh-Shen Loh speaks to students during an All-School Meeting.

The Art of Math

Renowned mathematician and social entrepreneur Dr. Poh-Shen Loh recently delivered a captivating address to students during an All-School Meeting, hosted by the Marlborough Math Club. Dr. Loh, recognized nationally for his mathematical contributions and commitment to education accessibility, as well as his innovative work with artificial intelligence, shared a simple yet profound statement: “Math is an art.” 

Math Club President Rachel C. ’26 introduced Dr. Loh, sharing her excitement for his presence. She shared, “Throughout my math journey, I have noticed that girls and other gender minorities are often discouraged by society to pursue math. Dr. Loh is here to show all of you how he’s impacting the world with math, and how interesting, practical, and fun math can be.”

Dr. Loh, who spends his summers traveling across the United States to discuss artificial intelligence and math, conveyed his passion for rebranding math and reshaping the public's perception of it. “Math is a subject that elicits a lot of emotions: some people love it, some people hate it, very few people fall right in the middle,” Dr. Loh shared. “I love getting to talk about math because it gives me the opportunity to rebrand it.” In addition to the opportunity to engage with thousands of people on his favorite topic, Dr. Loh is also fascinated by the various ways people respond to advances in AI in different regions of the country. One particular topic that garners a lot of response is the potential impact of AI-powered engines such as ChatGPT. While he understands the anxiety regarding a future where jobs as we know them are shifting, Dr. Loh emphasized the potential of AI as a tool that enhances human capabilities rather than replacing them. He encouraged a mindset that focuses on how human intelligence can complement AI advancements.

To demonstrate his ability to push the boundaries of AI, Dr. Loh invited students to suggest a 9th Grade-level math concept for him to pose as a question to ChatGPT. One student volunteered the quadratic formula. During a live demonstration, Dr. Loh asked ChatGPT what he deemed to be a trick question regarding the quadratic formula. As ChatGPT began to formulate a response, Dr. Loh looked surprised. “This actually isn’t bad!” he exclaimed. ChatGPT was able to untangle the trick question it was fed and explain the mathematical precedents and logic behind its decisions. 

“What math is really teaching us,” Dr. Loh explained, “is how to think; it is all logic.” Armed with the logic behind any problem or subject, Dr. Loh posits that skilled mathematicians can easily pick up any new skill. As a self-described social entrepreneur and innovator, Dr. Loh is working to make quality mathematics education accessible. to more people than ever before. He is pioneering a scalable online platform that provides engaging math education akin to live-streamed entertainment. He and his team are investing in training interested, dedicated high school students on effective ways to teach math. They are also teaching those math students how to be effective communicators and teachers. Those high school students are, in turn, teaching middle school students complex math ideas in online forums and chat rooms. Dr. Loh's vision is to create a self-sustaining model for widespread access to a fulfilling, successful math education. 

Throughout his talk, Dr. Loh took the students on a fascinating journey through his world of mathematics. He skillfully made complex mathematical concepts accessible and ensured the talk was both informative and entertaining. As he discussed the importance of curiosity and passion in whatever path students choose to follow, he closed with an even more universal and poignant message: “We need the people who are not only brilliant but who also genuinely want to help people to be the ones leading our world and making it a better place. You each have your own things that you care about, and there are no bounds to what you can achieve. Good luck.”

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