For Melb writer Vignesha Vishwanathan, 17, the main characters are numbers

Reading Time: 4 minutes


In Melbourne student Vignesha Vishwanathan’s new book, Pi is a little ‘numberling’ who lives in Numberville.

While the kids at school enjoy pulling each other’s tails, Pi of course has a natural advantage, because his tail goes on and on. And on.

And so the teachers Ms Circle, Ms Square and Mr Triangle decree that Pi must be cut short to 3.14.

Pi’s parents Mr and Mrs Square Root 2 are not happy, and take the matter to Numbercourt.

How will the judge – Mr Ruler – rule? To find out, read the full story in The World Beneath the Fine Print & Other Stories.

17-year-old Vignesha Vishwanathan, a self-confessed number lover, wrote the book this year, while preparing for her VCE as a student of Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School.

Published by Shawline Publishing, Melbourne, the book is now available across local council libraries including Knox, Monash, Wyndham and Dandenong.

“The stories are intended to introduce mathematical concepts to young readers,” Vignesha told Indian Link. “Equally, it is aimed at removing the fear of mathematics from young minds and making it more interesting.”

Vignesha has enjoyed mathematics from a very young age.

“Initially, I suppose, it was because I was better at it than the other subjects,” she admitted. “But over the years, I started learning more about the theory behind concepts to understand how and why things work, and I found that to be really interesting. That sparked a deeper interest in maths, and I’ve continued to enjoy it throughout high school”.

While she is one of the lucky few who love maths and can grasp the concepts confidently, there are many students who find the subject daunting. She agrees that it can sometimes be challenging to understand complex concepts because textbooks don’t necessarily explain things in the simplest ways.

As a result, kids and teenagers often don’t approach the subject with an open mind, Vignesha said. “I find that if you make maths interesting and fun, people will enjoy it more. Maths, to me, is a creative field. My imagination is triggered when I am doing maths problems. Sometimes I may stumble upon a concept that I can weave into a story.”

READ ALSO: Meet 7 yr old published author, Aahana Chakraborty

the world beneath the fine print
Source: supplied

She’s been weaving these stories for three years now.

“I started writing short pieces in Year 9,” she recounted. ‘I would write in the stream of consciousness style and send them to my English teacher for review. She’d give me good feedback and so I tried to improve every time, and really enjoyed the process. At the beginning, my writing was mainly diary entries, but after a while I started personifying things and giving characteristics to them. These characters and places then ended up becoming stories.”

One of these characters is the number Pi. Vignesha lights up when asked about it.

“I often thought of Pi’s personality in a similar way to Enid Blyton’s Fredrick Trotteville! I love the number Pi because it is so mysterious and there is so much we don’t know about it. We think it is quite random in its pattern and decimal digits but actually, there could be patterns that we just haven’t discovered yet.”

It is this passion and love for the subject that really shines through in her book.

That she has a flair for words comes through clearly too.

Consider this passage based on a growing attraction between two triangles:

Triangle TRX asked Triangle ABC, “How similar are we?”

“Ok, let’s see. What are your angles?” Triangle ABC asked, trying to sound impassioned but feeling her heart jolt.

“35, 80, 65,” Triangle TRX said.

Triangle ABC’s face slightly fell. “Mine are 55, 80 and 45.”

“Ok, that means AAA is out because all our angles are not congruent.”

“What about your sides?” Triangle ABC asked.

“14, 16, 18.”

“Mine are 7, 8, 9.”

They gasped. “SAS,” they said together.

(‘AAA’ of course is ‘angle-angle-angle’, when we know all three angles of a triangle. And the SAS (side-angle-side) theorem states: If two sides and the included angle of one triangle are equal to two sides and the included angle of another triangle, the triangles are congruent.)

Vignesha has a wide range of passions which include not only mathematics but also languages, cultures, and writing. Vignesha oscillates between these various interests with ease and has been able to beautifully combine them together in her fictional work.

It comes as no surprise to learn what’s next for Vignesha – she wants to study engineering at university. Some of her favourite mathematicians are Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős, Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman, and closer home to us in Australia, Prof. Asha Rao of RMIT.

There’s no doubt that Vignesha has a bright future ahead of her, whether in mathematics, engineering or writing. She is truly part of the multi-hyphenate generation that won’t be boxed into one particular craft, and is proud of the various passions and interests that light her fire.

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Nidhi Joshi
Nidhi Joshi
Freelance writer with a passion for travel, food, culture, motherhood and lifestyle journalism.

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