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Unsolved puzzles

Thursday, November 12, 2020

“When I was a kid, I always begged my parents to buy me those little Mind Benders puzzles,” remembered Rose McCarty. “My favorite puzzles were the ones that were so difficult that I wasn’t sure whether or not I could actually solve them. At Waterloo Math, I’m the one coming up with different puzzles to solve. I have an opportunity to tackle big, imprecise, unwieldly problems that determine what my field will look like in 20 years.”

As a doctoral student in Combinatorics & Optimization at the Faculty of Mathematics, Rose has spent the past three years diving deep into the weeds of structural graph theory, a field that focuses on sets of points (“vertices”) and lines (“edges”) that model relationships between objects on graphs. “What I like most about structural graph theory is how it provides simplified ways of looking at highly complex problems,” Rose shared. Like with the Mind Benders puzzles from her childhood, she revels in solving the problems that seem impossible. 

After defending her thesis in 2022, Rose plans to pursue a career as a professor in mathematics or computer science, continuing down the path of research and teaching she has already begun to forge at the Faculty of Mathematics. “Waterloo has given me a unique opportunity to really focus on my interests in collaboration with other like-minded researchers and learn how to pass that knowledge along as a teacher,” she concluded. “My experience has helped lay a foundation for success in so many ways.”

Read Rose's full profile.

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