A high achieving maths student is drawing lofty comparisons to a renowned former Nobel Prize winner.
Liam Hughes, who attends Robert Smyth Academy, is modest about the comparisons being made between himself and one of the Harborough’s most famous sons – William Bragg, who attended the school’s forerunner in the 1800s.
Bragg won the Nobel Prize in 1915 for his work developing X-rays.
Judith Green, a science teacher at the school, said: “There are plenty of very talented students in Harborough. Every year students win places at Oxford and Cambridge but even among this select group, Liam is exceptional.
“It’s not going too far to say Liam is probably the most talented student to attend Robert Smyth since Nobel Prize winner William Bragg in the 1800s. Liam is a truly exceptional mathematician.”
The 16-year-old said: “It’s probably an exaggeration.
“If not, it’s terrifying. Don’t expect me to win a Noble Prize anytime soon.”
Liam was first recognised as a talented mathematician while aged seven at Wilbarston Primary School.
His scores in tests were way above average.
He was entered into the Junior Maths Challenge, designed for students up to Year 8, while he was still at primary school and scored 87 out of 135 – outstripping the mark needed for gold by 21 points.
Since the age of eight he has worked with Robert Smyth maths teacher Howard Fay and says that Mr Fay has taught him a lot of tricks and shortcuts that have assisted him in challenges and during the British Mathematical Olympiad.
Liam, who lives in Desborough, said: “Maths is my favourite subject because it’s logical and it comes naturally to me.
“I can intuitively see how to start problems. I like maths because I can do it.”
He not only enjoys the subject but is also highly successful in national competitions that test his ability.
He did so well in the Senior Mathematical Challenge that he was invited to enter the Olympiad.
Mr Fay said: “Round one is very hard. Those who succeed are invited to an extremely hard round two.”
In 2012 Liam scored 120 out of 125 in the challenge and therefore received an invitation to the first round of the Olympiad where he made it through to the second round.
In what is the hardest maths exam in the country, there were only 14 students who beat Liam, and most of them were in the sixth-form while Liam was still in Year 11.
Due to his achievements to date, Liam has attended two training camps for the UK Mathematical Olympiad squad at Oxford and at Trinity College, Cambridge.
He is sent problem sheets from the UK Mathematics Trust every month.
Liam added: “I’m proud of my British Mathematical Olympiad round two score and making the Trinity camp, but there’s room for improvement this year.”
In the future he hopes to make some contribution to number theory or combinatorics and also joked that he is hopeful of being paid a lot to stay at university.
He said: “Maths is versatile, since it involves problem-solving and creative thinking, which are useful in all sciences, so if I become disillusioned with pure maths, I’ll have something to fall back on.”