Tyler Beauregard participated in the Polymath REU, a massive online group of REU projects formed to supplement research experience for those who missed out due to COVID-19 during the summer of 2020
How did you find out about your research experience, and what was the process for applying?
I first found out about the program through an email from another program which was cancelled. The application process was surprisingly easy in the case of Polymath. I had already gathered materials for other REUs (materials such as my CV, letters of recommendation, list of courses etc). The application didn’t even ask for a personal statement, and the deadline was way later than most REUs. I didn’t expect to get in because of this, but I did.
Can you summarize your project and talk about how it fits in with your other summer activities?
Since the Polymath REU is more so a conglomerate of other REUs, I joined a smaller project which we called the “Explorer-Director group.” Even in this smaller group, there were around 30 people though. Our first task was to study some preliminary material about a game on graphs. Then, we started by making/proving theorems about the game in specific classes of graphs. This was really fun because there wasn’t any pressure to do just one thing. You could find a niche aspect of the problem and work on that, and since this was a topic designed for the REU, almost all progress was original work. Personally, I used my CS background to design a web-app to simulate the game, so that everyone would have a tool to visualize their work. Then I designed a way to algorithmically show that the game was over (harder than it sounds). The web-app and algorithm was actually the subject of a talk I got to do with another presenter at the Young Mathematicians Conference.
How did you benefit from this experience?
I learned so much from this REU. I figured out what it was like to work with a team of mathematicians. I learned what math research looks like, and how to communicate math with other teammates, and how to present mathematics at a conference. The REU also helped me realize that my CS skills can be very helpful in my research. Also, I had a lot of fun, and made a few friends who I still talk to today!