How a maths problem changed the world’s richest man’s life forever
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man who in the last 10 years has seen his wealth grow exponentially. While people might know him as this e-commerce titan, before he started Amazon, Bezos was studying physics at Princeton University. Bezos in an informal chat revealed that it was a maths problem that changed his life as he realised he wasn’t good enough to be better than others at what he was studying.
According to a report by CNBC, there was a partial differential equation which Bezos said he just couldn’t solve as it was “really, really hard.” He along with his roommate worked on it for three hours but couldn’t solve it. They then went to a friend who saw the equation and said, “Cosine, that’s the answer.” Bezos asked him to explain how and the friend — Yasantha Rajakarunanayake — said that he had solved a similar problem a couple of years ago and that’s how derived the answer.
“That was an important moment for me, because that was the very moment when I realised I was never going to be a great theoretical physicist,” he told the Economic Club of Washington.
Bezos then said that he did some “soul searching” and realised that “In most occupations, if you’re in the 90th percentile, you’re going to contribute. In theoretical physics, you gotta be one of the top 50 people in the world, or you’re really not helping out much.”
The Amazon founder then changed his major to electrical engineering and computer science from physics. It was then Bezos said that he was committed to starting and running his own business. From studying physics at Princeton and not being able to solve a tough maths problem to starting and running one of the world’s biggest companies, Bezos has certainly come a long way. And the $126 billion net worth proves that he made the right call.