Timothy G. Abbott
Thomas Jefferson H.S. for Sci & Tech, Alexandria, VA
Various board games, Linux system administration, and Frisbee
Ross Mathematics Program , USACO camp, USAMO, MOP,Experimental Lincoln Math Olympiad, and Biology Olympiad
I am a senior in high school. I spend a lot of my time at this place called Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. About half of that time is spent doing math, CS, and physics. I’m a weird character, and haven’t really written down any reasonable account of my academic experiences. Unfortunately, I am obligated to fill this with many Accomplishments. I apologize. I used to live in Texas, in this city called Houston. I was there until after I graduated from elementary school, at which point I moved to Virginia so that I could go back to elementary school. It is very unclear when I became interested in academics. I did a few math competitions in middle school, but mostly because my math teacher told me to. My physics experience was not particularly good, and due to my school’s scheduling, I was not to encounter it again until my junior year.
Through my freshman year, I was more interested in sports such as soccer and track than in academics, following the footsteps of my brother. I played computer games frequently as well, and occasionally watched TV.
It was during my sophomore year that I started coming to our school math team, and thereby became integrated into the problem solving community. I represented my school at the Duke Math Meet on our B team, which won 2nd place. I ended up getting a varsity letter and captaining our B team at ARML.
That year I took the USA Computing Olympiad US Open placed last, worldwide. I also joined a contest written by a friend of mine, called the VladMO and achieved last place as well. Vlad was pleased because I helped his score distribution, though he later complained that my “proofs didn’t make any sense”.
I spent the summer after my sophomore year at the Ross Mathematics Program – 8 weeks of Number Theory and Abstract Algebra. While there, I learned the secrets of the Mathematical Proof. After this point, my proofs generally made more sense. This was a major turning point in my academic career, since I started to actually do well at things. I stopped playing computer games and watching TV around this point, since those were not available that summer and I decided that I didn’t miss them. Near the end of the summer, I read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, which helped spark my interest in physics.
My junior year I took classes calculus, mechanics, E&M, and semester classes in optics and modern physics. When I finished learning calculus, the math department was nice and let me take linear algebra. In December, Greg Price started a school physics team that I regularly attended, giving me experience in topics such as thermodynamics that never showed their face in my other physics classes. After some hasty learning of E&M from our physics text on some student holiday, I took the physics Olympiad semifinal round, and managed to do well enough for an invitation to the US Physics Team. Later in the year, my school won the Physics Bowl and I got a free shirt.
Math, CS, and physics related organized extracurricular activities dominated my free time. My original extracurricular goal my junior year was to improve my programming and algorithms skills. I did extensive work on the USACO training pages and after a few contests I was surprised to find myself invited to their training camp, two days before the deadline to reply to my invitation to the Physics Team – an important concern because their dates coincided. Because the US Physics Team was not traveling that year, I decided it was best to attend USACO camp that year, and try to get the Physics Team again this year.
During my junior year as well, Greg Price and Yan Zhang started a USAMO practice group, which I also attended. Meanwhile, I managed to make the USAMO for the first time, and through great fortune, got an honorable mention. I went to MOP, and managed to win a gold medal at the Experimental Lincoln Math Olympiad (ELMO).
This year I have continued my competitive interests. I am a co-captain of each of the math, physics, and CS teams at my school. I was a semifinalist in the Biology Olympiad. I’ve also been helping run the USAMO practice group in a rather subordinate role to Yan. This March, I went to an excellent research academy sponsored by CMI, where I did some (hopefully) original research in geometry. While there, I took the (unrelated) Asian Pacific Math Olympiad. I found out yesterday that I got a perfect score, which is weird because I’m pretty sure I didn’t know how to solve the last problem when time was called … and full partial credit seems a little fishy to me. I’ve done well again in USACO this year, and hope to be invited to the training camp. Obviously, I’m attending the US Physics Team. I intend to return to the Ross Program as a counselor this summer. I’m presently working on a research project in Quantum Computing that has yet to generate useful results. It remains to be seen whether this Jack-of-all-Trades can become a master of any one. I will attend either Harvard or MIT. I’ll know which one by May 2. I like to spend my time helping other people to learn more about math and science. I’ve coached at the TJ IMO (a competition for middle school students that TJ runs where we teach them math and have them work in teams) for the last three years. I graded at the chapter Mathcounts for all those years as well. Enough of all the evil things I did that we’re obligated to put here. Who am I? I’m a tall guy who has been frequently accused of wearing a math shirt. My nonacademic interests include various board games, Linux system administration, and Frisbee.