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Boy, 11, becomes youngest to pass top level of nationwide math exam

Hiroto Takahashi, who has become the youngest person to pass the top level of Japan's national mathematics exam, is seen in this photo on Nov. 3, 2018. (Mainichi/Akiko Oi)

TOKYO -- An 11-year-old boy has become the youngest person to pass the top level of a nationwide math exam in Japan, the test association announced on Nov. 15.

"I'm glad to pass the first level test because I had tried for about two years. I hope to become involved in enhancing mathematics," commented Hiroto Takahashi, a fifth-grader at Tokyo's Setagaya Municipal Ikenoue Elementary School, on his achievement.

The "Sugaku Kentei" is a nationwide test for measuring practical skills in mathematics held by the Mathematics Certification Institute of Japan. There are 14 levels ranging from the top level for undergraduates and graduates to a beginner level for preschool children. Takahashi took the first level test on Oct. 28, which includes questions about multivariate analysis, linear algebra and statistical data. He broke the age record for the top level test held by a 13 year old. The exam has a pass rate of just 9.4 percent.

When Takahashi was 2 to 3 years old, he first became interested in numerals after his parents bought him a cubic puzzle. He began studying mathematics by himself and passed the second level test for second-year high school students when in first grade in elementary school and the pre-first level test for third-year high school students when he was in second grade in elementary school. Takahashi is now the record holder for both levels.

The youngster, who dreams of becoming a mathematician, receives guidance from mathematician Shigeru Iitaka, a professor emeritus at Gakushuin University, and books containing the results of their joint research have been published.

(Japanese original by Akiko Oi, Student Newspapers Editorial Department)

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