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You don’t need to be a nerd to love math

Quest professor writes novel to inspire youth to embrace numbers
Mathematician, professor and author Richard Hoshino holds a copy of his recently published first novel, The Math Olympian.

For most writers the phrase “math author” is an oxymoron, but for one local mathematician, it is all in a day’s work.

Squamish mathematician and Quest University professor Richard Hoshino just launched his first novel, The Math Olympian

The book, which he wrote in his spare time, is a story about a small-town girl in Nova Scotia who commits herself to representing her country at the International Math Olympiad. 

Featuring a female protagonist was deliberate, he said. Hoshino said the young women he met when he was teaching in Nova Scotia – one of his many adventures– inspired him.

“It was such an honour to meet students, especially the female students who were ostracized at their schools for being the one female in their school who had a passion for math,” he said. The professor also wants to break the stereotypes that math is only for nerds.

Hoshino, 36, has already had a lifetime of adventures, and they were all thanks to his passion for math. 

In 2012 he used his math skills to develop a distance-optimal schedule for the highest-level baseball team in Japan, Nippon Professional Baseball. The schedule he helped devise while he was living in Tokyo reduced the team’s travel distances by 25 per cent – or about 70,000 km.

Before that, Hoshino worked as the first mathematician hired by the Canada Border Services Agency to use math formulas to help detect drug smugglers trying to cross the border. In that job, he learned to communicate in a way so that others can understand math.

“A job that I thought was 99 per cent math, one per cent communication was actually the other way around,” he said, adding that having to explain his work to the other border guards who were suspicious of him and his formulas was the hardest part of the job. “The math was actually incredibly easy.” 

Hoshino has also worked for three different TV game shows, using math to help them maximize the show’s intensity with cash prizes without breaking the shows’ budgets. 

His goal now is to use his novel to spread his passion for math to others and in particular to more young people.

Hoshino’s own success in math began in high school. He was one of six members of the 1996 Canadian team at the International Math Olympiad. The team came in 16th but Hoshino won an individual silver medal.

“I am in a very unique position as someone who is extensively involved in math education in Canada, who teaches at a university, who is a math Olympian and has coached some of Canada’s top talent over the last 15 years – to be able to share something that will hopefully reach a larger audience,” he said of his novel.

Hoshino’s self-published novel is available online through He will also be signing and selling his book at the Squamish Farmers’ Market on March 21. For more information, go to