Watch Jeff Bezos tell the funny story about the moment in college he realised he 'was never going to be a great theoretical physicist'

  • During an interview at The Economic Club of Washington, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told a funny story about the time in college when a friend helped him with a difficult maths problem.
  • “That was the very moment when I realised I was never going to be a great theoretical physicist,” Bezos said.
  • The friend he mentioned, Yasen Rajakarunanayake, responded on Twitter, saying it was “amazing” that Bezos remembered the interaction after 34 years.

Even the richest man in the world struggled with his maths homework back in the day.

During a recent interview at The Economic Club of Washington, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told the crowd about the time a friend helped him with a difficult maths problem while he attended Princeton.

After Bezos struggled with the maths problem, a partial differential equation, for three hours, he visited his friend, Yasantha Rajakarunanayake. Without writing anything down, Rajakarunanayake solved the equation in seconds.

“He brings us into his room, he sits us down, he writes out three pages of detailed algebra, everything crosses out, and the answer is cosine,” Bezos told the audience. “And I said, ‘Listen, Yasantha, did you just do that in your head?’ And he said ‘No, that would be impossible. Three years ago, I solved a very similar problem. And I was able to map this problem onto that problem, and then it was immediately obvious the answer was cosine.'”

“And that was an important moment for me: that was the very moment when I realised I was never going to be a great theoretical physicist,” Bezos said, as the audience laughed.

Rajakarunanayake, who Bezos described as “the smartest guy at Princeton,” saw the video of the interview and responded on Twitter, saying it was “amazing” that Bezos remembered the interaction after 34 years.

Watch the full interview with Bezos here.

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