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Photo by Orin Zyvan ’04

Josh O’Rourke ’09


Hometown: Moscow, Idaho

How Reed changed me:  At Reed, I feel like I’ve had the experience of going into the unknown. It’s really exciting…Reed showed me that I’m not the smartest person in the room, and that I can learn something from everyone…I never could have come here without financial aid.

Cool stuff I did: Ultimate Frisbee. Soccer. Writing fictional adventures of Churchill and FDR in the Quest

Financial aid: Yes

Adviser: Prof. Irena Swanson

Thesis: Frobenius Numbers of Numerical Semigroups Generated by Consecutive Squares

What it’s about: The frobenius number of a set of positive integers with gcd=1 is the largest integer that can’t be obtained by adding those set elements together. No general formula exists for the frobenius number of a set with three or more elements. I’m looking for a formula for sets of consecutive squares.

What it’s really about: It’s just as technical and arcane as I made it sound.

Random thoughts: I love number theory because the problems are so simple to state but incredibly difficult to crack.