School of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science

Mr Shimon Corcos at Graduation and with a diagram summarising his honours project.

Mathematician in the Making

Mr Shimon Corcos graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours in Mathematics summa cum laude, achieving a weighted average of 98.75%!

During his matric year, Corcos researched UKZN’s undergraduate programmes. Through alumni and his searches, he discovered that the University has highly qualified academic staff members and world-renowned researchers. Furthermore, the Durban campuses are close to his home in Westville. He said that all these factors made UKZN the best choice.

While Corcos noted that studying online due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge, he appreciated being in the comfort of his own home.  It also opened up communication with lecturers and enhanced students’ administration and computer skills. ‘I admire the way our lecturers adjusted so quickly to the online mode of teaching and learning,’ he said.

Corcos was inspired to pursue his Honours in Mathematics by his lecturers in his undergraduate years, including two of his mentors and supervisors, Professors Dharmanand Baboolal and Paranjothi Pillay, whom he holds in high regard. His project focused on Point-free Topology, which is the study of frames/locales of open sets of topological spaces rather than the spaces themselves. Ongoing efforts have been made since the late 1930s to translate classical topological concepts and theorems into concepts and theorems applicable to frames/locales. The project thus focused on the process of transitioning from working in the context of topological spaces to working in the context of frames (called the Point-free context), and vice versa. This transition is seamless for a class of topological spaces called Hausdorff spaces. The benefit of working in the Point-free context is that some important classical theorems in Topology such as Tychonoff’s Theorem have a frame theoretic counterpart that can be proved without the axiom of choice (a fundamental set-theoretic axiom) whereas the proof of the classical version is reliant on this choice principle.

Corcos describes his years of studying at UKZN as ‘very eventful’. He thanked the University for the numerous scholarships and awards he received during the course of his studies as well as his lecturers and family for their support.

Baboolal commented: ‘Shimon is a brilliant student who consistently performed at the highest level in all the courses I taught him. I feel honoured to supervise him for his master’s studies.’

Pillay agreed: ‘It was my absolute pleasure to teach Shimon. He is hard-working, diligent and extremely humble and respectful. He is very bright and has produced exceptional results every year. He did a lot of work for his honours project going way beyond what was expected of him.’

Corcos said that his Masters in Mathematics relates to ‘hyperspaces of topological spaces, that is, topological spaces whose points are the subsets of the original space. In particular, the research will investigate the Vietoris and uniform hyperspaces, the former being more prevalent in the literature on hyperspaces.’

He plans to pursue a career in academia, conduct research in Mathematics and share his passion for the sciences through lecturing.

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal and Supplied