Israel's First Druze Math Lecturer Feels at Home Here
“My grandfather was a human calculator; he could do all kinds of calculations in his head. My father only went to the fourth grade, but he could do four-figure multiplication in his head. I guess I inherited their genes.”
Toufik Mansour, 35, was explaining how he became the first in his community in
The University played a defining role in the young Mansour’s choice of career direction. His economic situation had forced him to drop out of the Master’s program at the Technion, where he had earned his Bachelor’s in Math. After three years of working as a teacher in different schools, from elementary to high school, he returned to his higher education, but now transferred to the University.
Mansour had actually written his Master’s thesis during his three-year working interval, and the Math Department here, impressed with the work, accepted it and then admitted him into its doctoral program. He finished his dissertation, with the suggestive title of “Permutations with Forbidden Patterns,” in three years. The budding mathematician had obtained
initial results within six months and sent off a paper to a conference in
In fact, the American Mathematical Society’s Internet site, “Math SciNet,” which lists mathematicians around the world and their publications, shows that Toufik Mansour has now authored or co-authored twenty articles. Quite an impressive record, considering that he received his doctorate only two years ago.
Talking about his doctorate, he interjects a world of praise for his dissertation advisor, Prof. Alek Vainshtein. “I really have to thank my advisor,” he
says. “His knowledge, his enthusiasm, and especially for being ready to help me at a moment’s notice with professional advice. He made me feel very strong during my work on the doctorate.”
Armed with a Bourse Chateaubriand, one of the French government’s most prestigious academic grants, Mansour went to
Using the Internet as a math-dating service, he looked for research partners, and he proceeded to write more papers without even meeting his co-authors in person. “In the past year,
though, I have met four of the people I wrote with,” he noted in passing. Thanks more to the Internet, he remarked, his year in
Mansour next garnered a European Community Research Training Network grant, the only one from the
The objective of his two years of post-doctoral research, Mansour said, was “to get to know [others in his field], to strengthen [his ability in his particular field], and to learn [both more about his field and about other math areas].” He summed up his experience like this: “I managed this last [objective] more than I expected.
The Druze mathematician now found himself at a crossroads.
As a young married doctoral student, he also taught at four different colleges to finance the construction of his new home, as well as to have an income. Recalling his years as a doctoral
candidate, Mansour commiserated, “She [his wife] pampered me so that I could complete my doctorate, but she also suffered with me.” Apparently the pampering paid off, and the