How a math problem changed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s life forever

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 11, 2020

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, Amazon. File Photo   -  The Hindu

Many students think mathematics is an unattainable subject. The fear of math is so real and widespread among students that in 1972, Frank Richardson and Richard Suinn even developed a math anxiety measurement scale. Mary Fides Gough coined the term mathemaphobia to describe the feelings many have towards mathematics.


However, Amazon CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos sees math from a different angle. Bezos, in an informal chat with the Economic Club of Washington, revealed that it was a complex math problem that made him realise he was meant to do something ‘big’.


During his time at Princeton University, Bezos was struggling to solve a partial differential equation. Bezos said he couldn’t solve it because “it was really, really hard.” He took his roommate’s help and both of them together sat for three hours straight. However, their effort yielded no result. Bezos went to the smartest guy in the class, Yasantha Rajakarunanayake, who solved the problem and explained it to Bezos, according to a report on CNBC.


According to the 56-year-old CEO, that moment was a sudden realisation of the fact that he was not meant to pursue physics or math. Bezos then did some “soul searching” and changed his stream to electrical engineering and computer science, Gadgets Now reported.


The business tycoon also believes that in most occupations if you’re in the 90th percentile, you’re going to contribute something in your field. However, in theoretical physics, you have to be one of the top 50 in the world or you’re not helping as much.



From not being able to solve a math equation to running one of the world’s biggest companies, Jeff Bezos has come a long way. Currently, his net worth is $126 billion

Published on February 11, 2020

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