My name is Elena and I’m going to tell you the story of one mathematician-to-be in Berlin(k).
I am sure that a lot of you have thought during a boring math class in school (or maybe even in the university) “When am I actually going to use this thing in my life?” As I decided to enroll this internship I was thinking the same. I was expecting to face a lot of tasks that were absolutely unrelated to the field of my studies. But now, almost two months after my first day here, I am sure that this is not necessarily a bad thing and – not completely true. Actually my crazy-mathematical-related-way of thinking found its use in the office of Berlink.
How did I ended up here? Let me tell you shortly about myself:
- I am 21, soon to be 22, coming from Sofia – the capital city of Bulgaria.
- I am last year student at the Technical University of Sofia and I am studying applied Maths and Informatics.
- I really enjoy what I am studying (as crazy as that may sound) and I am a real fan of calculations, integrals, inequalities and puzzling exercises.
- I am currently doing a three months Internship in Berlink on the behalf of an Erasmus+ project.
You could never guess which is the biggest challenge that our team has to face before the arrival of each group. After Polina (the Operations Manager) has made the arrangements with all the Host families, where the incoming students have to stay and Cinzia (the Work Placement Officer) has found the Host companies for their internship, the real puzzle solving begins. Berlin is a very big city and sometimes it takes hours to get from one place to another, despite how good transportation network might be here, so there is an exercise for you:
Exercise 1. How five students should be optimally distributed in their homes and workplaces, so that they need a reasonable amount of time for commuting? Bear in mind that also no one has to travel for too little time, because it is really not fair to the others. Maybe with five people you can do the distribution fairly easy, but what happens if they are 10 or 15 or 20 students?
Solution. With the number of students increasing, the task is getting harder and harder and impossible to be solved directly. And here is where maths comes helpful. You probably have never heard of the assignment problem, which is a mathematical problem that deals with the question how to assign n jobs to n workers in the best possible way. And as one can easily see, this problem is very similar to what we were struggling with. So after a little bit of time for remembering what we learned at the university and some small modifications on the solving method we managed to easily get the task done. And the solving process was also very fun to do. Together with Cinzia we researched distances, filled in some very big tables, did some primary school maths calculations and also laughed a lot because we were completely unable to do them without the help of a calculator. And at the end we had a group of 20 satisfied Italian interns, none of which had to travel for ages so to reach its workplace. Cool, right?
So what’s the moral of my story? Always bear in mind that new and unknown things are challenging at first but can be interesting and adventurous too and also never undervalue the importance of your maths classes.
Article written by Elena Nikolova, trainee at Berlink