Johnsburg resident Artem Cheprasov likes mathematics, but not necessarily the traditional ways of doing it.
While preparing for his graduate school exam, he wanted to save time during the test by coming up with faster ways to multiply. After being admitted to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he decided to put down his new-found shortcuts on paper. His self-published book, “On a New Method of Multiplication and Shortcuts,” is available on Amazon.com.
On break from school, Cheprasov and Northwest Herald senior reporter Kevin Craver met at Conscious Cup Coffee in Crystal Lake to talk mathematics, which is much more fun when grades and/or bills aren’t involved. And after an interview involving longhand multiplication and three spoken languages, Craver is asking his bosses for a raise.
Craver: Why a math book?
Cheprasov: The idea came sort of randomly ...
Craver: No pun intended.
Cheprasov: [Laughs] ... it wasn’t like I planned on it. I put this out there for anybody who would find it interesting or useful.
Craver: So how is it that a veterinary student decided to write a book on how to multiply?
Cheprasov: The idea started as I was preparing to go to vet school. You have to take the GRE [Graduate Record Examination], and there’s a math portion. It’s not difficult, but you can’t use a calculator. I thought of using some tricks to multiply and divide faster. They didn’t help me, so I thought the only way to do it was to come up with something else.
Craver: OK, at the risk of sounding like a 24-karat ignoramus, your book states that you can use negative numbers to get positive results. I didn’t think that was possible.
Cheprasov: If you have a pen and paper, I could show you.
Craver: Here you go, and show your work.
[Cheprasov took Craver’s yellow legal pad and multiplied 79 by 26. We’ll spare the details, because we’re not sure ourselves, but Cheprasov quickly came up with the right answer of 2,054. Craver then did the same problem the traditional way to come up with the same answer.]
Craver: Why the alternate method?
Cheprasov: My whole point in the book is that we all learn to do it one way or another. Somebody may not like the traditional way – they struggle with it – or maybe they just want to learn a cool way to do it. I personally don’t like the whole “carry the one, carry the five” system.
I wasn’t looking to reinvent mathematics. I say quite clearly in the book many times, for some it’s for fun, for others it’s a way to do math better.
Craver: How did you balance writing with veterinary studies?
Cheprasov: I did it only over the breaks. Once vet school started, that was it.
Craver: Do you think people are becoming too technology-dependent when it comes to math?
Cheprasov: Yes, definitely. In order to create and innovate, you can’t depend on a computer. You must depend on your brain.
Craver: I ask this of all soccer fans – what’s your favorite team?
Cheprasov: It’s between [FC] Barcelona and Arsenal ... Manchester United is good, too.
The Cheprasov lowdown
Who is he? Artem Cheprasov, local student and author.
Family? Parents, Sergey and Olga, older brother, Max.
Favorite sport? Soccer.
Favorite food? Anything vegetarian.