How an ancient tool turned me into a maths whizz - The National

The following is from an article titled “Year of Young People: How an ancient tool turned me into a maths whizz” published in The National by Supermaths very own Dhruv Maheshwari.

Click here to read the article on The National website


I WAS inspired to learn coding at a young age because computers are the future. We are already depending a lot on technology, web apps, mobile apps and software day-to-day. I used to think about the code behind these software applications is, and I used to dream about the programming.

Every time I played a game, I came to my mum asking her questions: “How is this made?” “How does this work?”, ”Why is it that these move on their own?” “Can we edit or delete the code and change the functionality of the software?”

She has an IT background and started teaching me the coding, and then with the knowledge that I gained I made a game at the age of 10. I started learning from books and online libraries, then I made a YouTube video series.

However, when it came to sums my mum discovered I was struggling with mental maths, and she decided to go back to basics.

Using an ancient technique she learned while growing up in India, she tutored me after school with the help of an Abacus tool, and from that moment on my life changed. It sounds clichéd, but it’s true.

There were many benefits when I started to learn the abacus. I could already do sums with a pen and paper, but with the abacus I could do most sums on the spot in the mind. My memory increased, my confidence developed and my problem-solving skills were boosted.

This method involves visualising abacus beads in the mind and reaching the answer faster than a calculator. I practised abacus a lot and reach a level where I can use it for the rest of my life effortlessly.

I wanted to share my knowledge with others so I created my own YouTube account, Abacus Maths Skills. The response was outstanding, and after I presented my maths skills at a school assembly a lot of my friends’ parents came up to my parents saying “can you teach our child?”. I think it was such a hit because this technique was new to Scotland.

Initially my mum taught it to me only, but due to the great response at school my parents started their own business teaching the technique.

When I learned maths, my logical reasoning improved a lot and it helped my computing skills flourish and I became a keen coder. When I’m older I would like to continue sharing knowledge.

At the same time I want to become a white hat hacker (a “hacker” that gets paid to search for vulnerabilities inside a website, server or desktop and patch them up – otherwise known as a cyber-security expert). That’s why I’m learning lots of programming languages, so I can write scripts to patch up vulnerabilities.