Mark Lucianovic, of Springfield, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, will compete to represent the United States in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Beijing. An article Tuesday incorrectly said another student was the only in the Washington area competition to make the U.S. team. (Published 6/7/90)
Kiran S. Kedlaya showed an affinity for learning when he was 3 years old.
It was during a visit to a doctor, said his father, Herg Kedlaya. While the family sat in the waiting room, the toddler wandered into the doctor's private office. When the parents began looking for him, the doctor motioned for the parents to be quiet, the father recalled, then led them to their son.
There sat the 3-year-old, reading aloud from a medical manual.
Now 15, Kiran Kedlaya's abilities continue to impress. And a love for math has landed him a chance to become one of six Americans to represent the United States in the International Mathematical Olympiad, to be held in Beijing next month.
"This is for kids that are incredibly talented in mathematics," said Kathleen Holmay, a spokeswoman for the Mathematical Association of America, the competition's sponsor. "The Olympiad takes a look at 400,000 kids in this country and asks, 'What do you know?' " in a written test.
Kedlaya, who lives with his family in Silver Spring, was one of 24 students nationwide and the only student from the Washington area to qualify for an intensive four-week training session at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis before the final team is selected.
"There will be four hours of classes a day and another four hours for the students to work on problems," said Gregg Patruno, who is one of the coaches and a former Olympiad team member.
"The object of the Olympiad is to cover pre-calculus math," Patruno said. And for anyone with mathematical abilities, Patruno provided samples of the problems Kedlaya and other contestants will be confronted with:
"An acute-angled triangle ABC is given in the plane. The circle with diameter AB intersects altitude CC
and its extension at points M and N, and the circle with diameter AC intersects altitude BB
and its extension at P and Q. Prove that the points M, N, P, Q lie on a common circle."
While only six Americans will compete in China, Kedlaya seems under little pressure. "I feel my chances are pretty good of making the final team," he said.
In fact, he seemed oblivious to a wall full of 43 awards for outstanding academic abilities, saying he got involved in math "out of idle curiosity."
If he doesn't recognize a genius, others do.
"I've never had a student like him," said Nick Rozen, a mathematics teacher and Kedlaya's adviser at Georgetown Day School, where Kedlaya is a sophomore.
"He's three or four years ahead of anyone in his class," said Frances Young, head of the math department at Georgetown Day. The teen has already taken a math course at American University.
While in the eighth grade, Kedlaya took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, given to high school seniors so colleges can determine academic qualifications.
Kedlaya outscored 95 percent of all college-bound seniors in the verbal portion of the test and 99 percent of the country's seniors in the math portion.
But the tale of Kedlaya's ascent to mathematical stardom takes on added significance when told from his father's perspective. It's the tale of a young Indian immigrant family, unfamiliar with the American educational system, realizing they had a child with a special gift and unsure of exactly how to develop it.
"We had a nightmare in our hands," said Herg Kedlaya, a pressman with the International Monetary Fund, who professes no mathematical abilities. "We didn't go to school in this country. We didn't know what resources were available."
They did know that the preschooler had already "exhausted all the scales" on a battery of tests given him, his father said. One public school counselor advised the then-4-year-old's parents to enroll him in a private school.
Kedlaya was sent to Green Acres School in Rockville until the ninth grade, his father said. Then he attended Georgetown Day, where the father spends more than half his income to pay for his son's education -- and for that of an equally talented daughter who is more inclined toward the arts.
"I may end up in a mathematics-related field," Kiran Kedlaya said. For now he's more concerned about the upcoming training in Annapolis and maybe an awards ceremony at the National Academy of Science, in the event that he's honored for his Olympiad performance. "All this publicity," he said, "I don't respond that well to it."