Science & Tech

Meet Your Instructor

Terence Tao

Lesson time 04:11 min

Terence Tao invites you to see math the way he does—as a beautiful piece of art—and encourages you to open yourself to a new understanding of mathematics as an accessible and exciting opportunity for exploration.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

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[MUSIC PLAYING] TERENCE TAO: I find mathematics beautiful. The act of stripping things down to the bare essentials creates a certain elegance that you wouldn't have seen if you tried to keep the original problem in all its complexity. - My guest tonight is a UCLA professor who is widely regarded as the world's greatest living mathematician-- - Terence Tao. STEPHEN COLBERT: --Terence Tao. - Professor Terence Tao is the equivalent of a rock star in mathematics. NARRATOR: By 9, he was doing maths alongside students twice his age. TERENCE TAO: I've always liked mathematics as long as I can remember. My parents told me when I was two, they found me trying to teach some older kids how to count. MAN 1: It was mind-blowing. He started doing things which I have never seen any other student come near. MAN 2: In 2006, Professor Tao won the Fields Medal. His single most famous result is a proof that you can find billions of evenly-spaced prime numbers. WOMAN: The Mozart of mathematics was named to President Biden's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. - When I first learned mathematics, I didn't appreciate just how connected it was with the rest of the world. I like concepts that make unexpected connections. Anywhere where there's a pattern or some shape, it's there. And it's exciting and thrilling. And I hope I can convey some of that to you. I'm Terence Tao, and this is my MasterClass. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think that people often have a fear of mathematics, that it is just too alien, too different from the everyday experience for it to be useful in their lives. To me, mathematical thinking is just an extension of ordinary everyday thinking. Mathematics is often about trying things you don't quite understand and failing the first time. But mathematics failure is OK. You can just keep experimenting and keep playing. You may not achieve your original goal, but you often learn something. I like to think that this class is for anyone, really. I think everyone has an innate ability for mathematics. In fact, maybe this class is even more suitable for people who have not had formal mathematical training, because they might get more out of seeing what math is actually like. I wanted the opportunity to show that knowing how to think mathematically can be a tool that you can use to solve problems in a systematic way, in a way which can give you reassurance and can make a complex world a little bit more manageable. A large part of this class will be about talking about problem-solving. There is a certain way in which mathematicians approach problems. We abstract them. We break them up into pieces. We make analogies. We try to find connections with other problems. So my class is not an advanced math class. I'm not going to write down any equations. I'm not going to give you homework. It's about what mathematics is like and hopefully how some of these problem-solving strate...

About the Instructor

A MacArthur Fellow and Fields Medal winner, Terence Tao, PhD, was studying university-level math by age 9. Now the “Mozart of Math” is breaking down his approach to everyday problem-solving—without complex equations or formulas. Learn how to deconstruct challenges, use storytelling as a tool, and discover solutions, whether you’re trying to level up in a computer game or just catch your plane on time.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Terence Tao

World-renowned mathematician Dr. Terence Tao teaches you his approach to everyday problem-solving—without complex equations or formulas.

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