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Jeffrey Yan

Traveling Team

Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto High School

Grade: Junior


Playing go, playing piano, animating and programming games, sleeping, watching TV with my sister, running, swimming, snowboarding, and (as of two days ago) longboarding


Math Club, Science Olympiad, Go Club, Paly Math Camp (a program our high school math club runs for middle schoolers every summer)


USAJMO winner (2010), Math Olympiad Summer Program (2010), USAMTS gold prize (2011), Bay Area Math Olympiad Grand Prize (2012), USAMO participant (2012), USACO gold division (2012)


The first thirteen years of my life revolved around video games, the intense game of hide-and-go-seek tag, and other similar activities with my friends. I had never even heard of academic competitions until one day in eighth grade, a friend dragged me along with him to take the AMC 8. I had always enjoyed math over other school subjects because of its relative lack of busy-work, but seeing these problems opened my eyes to the beauty of mathematics. Fine, to be honest, it wasn't quite love at first sight. Having never really thought about a problem before, I was infuriated with my inability to understand things.

Fortunately, frustration can be a powerful motivator, and my struggling soon developed into exploring. Without any formal guidance, I began reading math books in class, and managed to excel in the next year's contests. Attending MOP that year was an amazing experience, and afterwards I was thoroughly convinced that math was the noblest subject to pursue, given its absolute truth, elegance, etc. However the next year, much to my disappointment, after a bad day on the AIME I failed to even qualify for the USAMO. While taking a break from math, I began to expand my horizons by learning algorithmic programming, go, and of course, physics.

Something about physics has attracted me ever since the first time I opened my first physics book, The Feynman Lectures, about a year ago. Feynman's contagious enthusiasm drove me to read his lectures like a well-plotted thriller. Maybe it's the application of mathematics to successfully explain everything. Maybe it's the elegance and simplicity of the equations that govern how our universe works. Or maybe it's just the natural desire of people to ask questions about the world around them - physics provides the answers in a precise and inexplicably satisfying way. Regardless of the reason, I love physics, and I'm very excited to meet other like-minded individuals and have a great time at Physics Camp!

I'd like to thank Mr. Leonard for organizing the Physics Olympiad at our school and for being an excellent physics teacher (especially since this is only his first year teaching AP physics!). I'd also like to thank my sister, who makes everyone around her smile and laugh, for constantly reminding me of the joy in life. Lastly, I can't express with simple words how grateful I am to my mom, who has the hardest job in the world: raising two kids and working full-time all on her own. Her unwavering positive attitude in the face of such adversity and love for me and my sister are an inspiration every day.

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