2 May 2019

17-year-old graduate hopes to use maths to benefit the world

9:01 pm on 2 May 2019

A 17-year-old has graduated from the University of Auckland, making him one of the country's youngest university graduates ever.

Tristan Pang got his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Physics

Tristan Pang Photo: Supplied to RNZ

Tristan Pang got his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Physics with almost a perfect grade point average.

He hopes to complete Honours this year, then his PhD by the age of 21.

The teenager studied pure mathematics, a subject he has been fascinated by since before he was old enough to hold a pencil.

"Maths is an infinite, beautiful puzzle waiting to be explored, it is spontaneous and exciting, and that is why I love it," he said.

He said he was taken by how maths could be used in business, engineering and science.

"I'm really interested in the way maths is used in string theory, for example, and part of my goal is to discover maths that can benefit the world."

Tristan came to New Zealand from the UK at age four with his family and has been supported by his parents to take advantage of his intellectual gifts.

He got the highest grade, A*, in the Cambridge A-level exam when he was 11, but was only admitted for full-time study in the university after he turned 13 - the family was told he was too young for an adult environment earlier.

"When I came to university I felt at home," Tristan said.

Tristan is also an enthusiastic swimmer and does public speaking, teaching at the undergraduate level, and mentoring.

He wants to work in academia, doing research and teaching in the future.

"It's the perfect career for me, I want to do research and as well, I've always liked helping other people so teaching is something I enjoy. As long as I'm doing what makes me happy, I'll keep doing it."