Le Ba Khanh Trinh - the pride of VN's Mathematics

Trinh is also a football lover, and at the same time, a capable table-tennis player. 

(VNF) – The achievement of the Vietnamese team this year reminds us of Le Ba Khanh Trinh, who glorified Vietnam by winning the full score in the IMO in 1979, plus a special prize for the smartest answer.

The record yet to be broken

Dr. Le Ba Khanh Trinh just assisted the Vietnamese team in the 58th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), in which the students brought home four golds, one silver and one bronze medal.

It was the country’s best results in 43 years of attending the competition.

38 years ago, Trinh, a student of the Quoc hoc Hue highschool for the gifted was also member of the Vietnamese team competing in IMO in UK.

Until today, he remains the only one who won the special prize in that competition for the smartes way of solving IMO quizz.

Thủ khoa tuyệt đối IMO 1979: Chuyện bây giờ mới kể

38 years ago, Le Ba Khanh Trinh (L), made Vietnam proud by his brilliant result at IMO (source: Giao Duc Thoi Dai)

His answer was evaluated as “even better than the one from the contest organizing board”.

After 41 IMO seasons, he is still the only Vietnamese contestant to have achieved such high results.

Trinh was straight away admitted to the Faculty of Mathematics, Mechanics and Informatics in the former Soviet Union's most prestigious institution: Lomonosov Moscow State University.

The school was where he successfully completed his doctoral thesis under the supervision of Andrey Alexandrovich Gontrar, vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Return to contribute to homeland

“As long as there is a departure, there will be a comeback,” it’s Trinh’s explanation for his decision of not staying abroad to seek for better employment opportunities after graduation.

Returning to homeland, he became a lecturer at the Faculty of Mathematics in the Ho Chi Minh City National University of Science.

Trinh since then has dedicated his talents and experiences to nourishing outstanding students in mathematics.

He teaches not only students attending the university but also those from specialised schools. In recent years, he has played the role of supervisor or vice-supervisor and helped select and train members of IMO teams.

He has also assisted in the training of Saudi Arabia’s IMO team since 2015, accompanying them on the way towards higher achievements in international competitions.

Le Ba Khanh Trinh - the pride of VN's Mathematics

Le Ba Khanh Trinh has worked as a teacher who kindles the love for Maths in generations of students for decades. (source: Nguoi Lao Dong)

Regardless of whatever jobs and positions he holds, Trinh, always fulfilled his duties and responsibilities with passion and inspiration.

He rarely carries out research, but when he does, they are acclaimed -- for example, his work, “Static and Dynamic Geometry”, written in 2008, is considered a transformative mathematical model.

In the public's eyes, Trinh is a 'mathematics phenomenon'.

In his students' eyes, he is a dedicated teacher, strict yet caring and inspiring.

In his colleagues' eyes, he is a careful, serious but gentle guy who stays calm in any argument.

Multi hidden talents & view on education

On contrast to the stereotype which defines intellects as 'boring nerds', Le Ba Khanh Trinh has been living a vibrant life.

In his house, literature and history books outnumbers Mathematics books.

"I love reading, especially history books. I am a fan of comics, too." Trinh said.

Le Ba Khanh Trinh - the pride of VN's Mathematics

Trinh (centre), holding the guitar, performed at an arts event when he was a student of Lomonosov Moscow State University. (source: vnexpress.net)

As a highschool student in Hue highschool for the gifted, he was already an active arts performer, who often appeared on the stage with his guitar, dedicating to the audience melodious pieces of classical music.

When studying in Lomonosov University, Trinh was the leader of the arts troupe of the Vietnamese students in his faculty, who seldom failed to convince friends to take part in extra-curriculum activities.

He was also a skilled dancer and electronic keyboard player of the troupe.

His team won the first prize in the university’s singing contest for three years in a row (1986, 1987, 1988), and even represented the university in the city-level competition.

Nowadays, the Maths teacher is still in love with music. He likes to play the piano in his free time, and sometimes dedicated his performance to friends in their gatherings.

In 2013, the leaders of IMO teams worldwide were taken by surprise by his candid dance performance.

Likewise, at the Mathematics Meeting 2016, on being forced to perform, he played the guitar and sang along enthusiastically and professionally.

As a person whose hobbies are wide-ranging, Trinh places emphasis on holistic education.

According to him, contest for outstanding students are necessary, for all subjects, at all level, in order to shortlist talents for the country. However, general education should not be underestimated.

To him, competition should be taken as a game for students to enjoy. “Many countries which top the list of performers in mathematics do not take IMO too serious” he said.

Besides, he also stressed the role of the teachers in triggering students’ interests and creativity in learning Mathematics./.

( Phi Yen )

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