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Photo:

Mubasshir came up with the concept of his equation in less than two weeks. (Supplied: Lavalla Catholic College)

Mubasshir Murshed, fondly known as “Mub” by his friends, is a 17-year-old mathematics genius who has been given the rare honour, for someone of his age, of being published in a national academic journal.

## Key points:

- Mubasshir Murshed created an equation that proves the parabola is the only shape that has one focal point
- He came up with the concept in less than two weeks
- His work was published in the Australian Mathematics Education Journal (AMEJ)

His achievement sounds complicated for the uninitiated — he has written an equation that proves “why a parabola is the only shape that has one focal point”.

But the Year 12 student’s work has been called “significant” by the coeditor of the Australian Mathematics Education Journal (AMEJ), Robert Lewis, who published the teenager’s paper.

“Considering his age, it is a significant approach, it’s a unique approach, so it was something we were interested in publishing, especially coming from a Year 12 student,” Dr Lewis said.

Photo:

The parabola is the curved black line in this diagram. Satellite dishes are parabola-shaped. The focal point is where the lines intersect. Mubasshir has written an equation that proves why a parabola is the only shape that has one focal point. (Supplied: Mubasshir Murshed)

The AMEJ is produced by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers.

Dr Lewis said he was blown away by Mubasshir’s equation.

“This is something you would expect from someone’s later years of university, or after they’ve left university,” he said.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a high school student being published — it’s usually from educational professionals and those in the mathematical field.”

## A curious question

Photo:

Outside of the classroom, Mubasshir loves to play chess, watch cricket and hang out with friends. (ABC Gippsland: Sarah Maunder)

Mubasshir, who attends Lavalla College in Traralgon, has always been interested in mathematics and physics.

“It’s just logical for me to see how things work together; how equations are developed and the interactions between physical objects,” he said.

Photo:

Mubasshir says having his work published is probably the most exciting thing he has done. (Supplied: Lavalla Catholic College)

“I went to my maths teachers asking why a parabola was the only shape that had the ability to create this focal point; I asked them, ‘what if there was another shape that could do this?’

“They encouraged me to investigate the questions I was asking and experiment with it.”

Mubasshir developed his concept in less than two weeks, doing most of the work at home.

The final result was 11 pages of work that was revised down to six pages.

His teacher, Deborah Murrell was the one who suggested getting the paper published.

“The property is known to everyone that a parabola does have a focal point, basically what my paper showed is that the parabola is the only kind of function that can have that property of a focus point, it’s pretty logical proof,” Mubasshir said.

Mrs Murrell said she was proud of her student.

Photo:

Deborah Murrell is the teacher who encouraged Mubasshir to explore his idea. (ABC Gippsland: Sarah Maunder)

“I was watching this boy grow in his confidence and ideas,” she said.

“I knew the level he was thinking and answering questions.

“I was really proud he managed to get it done.”

Outside of the classroom, Mubasshir loves playing chess, watching cricket and hanging out with his friends.

“This is probably the most exciting thing I’ve done,” he said.

“I couldn’t imagine having something published in Year 12, especially when it just came from a simple, curious question.”

Mubasshir is hoping to study a double degree of computing and engineering at university.

“I want to try and discover something — ideally I want to be responsible for at least a discovery, or trying to implement the discovery of some innovative project that’s really helpful to society,” he said.

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