Jasmine Peterson


Detective graph-it

I'm from: Sydney, New South Wales
Current Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Position: Honours student, School of Natural Sciences (Mathematics)
Field of research/work: Mathematics
YTS Years: 2024

Jasmine's Notable career moments

  • Kindergarten - Started watching MythBusters and discovered my dream job: blowing things up… I mean science

  • Year 4 - My new dream job was to be a palaeontologist (dinosaur scientist) because dinos are cool

  • Year 5 – Found out that palaeontologists look at dino poo, ewww!

  • Year 7 - Learned more about space in science and decided I wanted to be an astronaut

  • Year 11 - Moved to Tassie; I’d never seen so many stars before!

  • Year 12 - Had the best maths teacher and realized I loved maths

  • Started studying maths and physics at the University of Tasmania

  • Finished uni and realized I like maths more than physics; space is still cool though!

  • Started research in graph theory (yay puzzles!)

  • I’m about to graduate again; what’s next, I wonder?

About Jasmine Peterson

I’ve always loved puzzles, problems, and mysteries, and now I get to spend my time trying to solve them! The type of puzzles I play with are called graphs, but not like the graphs you are probably thinking of. These graphs are more like mind maps or family trees. You can even think of a graph like a treasure map, where each point marks buried treasure and each line tells you how to get there!

There are lots of types of puzzles that use these kinds of graphs. Can you get to every treasure chest without taking the same path twice? Can you travel every path without revisiting a treasure chest? Do any of the paths cross another path? What if someone rips up every copy of your map and leaves you with only one piece of each? Can you use these pieces to put the map back together? That last puzzle is currently my favourite—it’s called the Reconstruction Conjecture. Reconstruction because we are rebuilding the graph from its pieces, and a conjecture is an idea that we think is true but can’t prove yet. It sounds like it should be easy to put our treasure map back together, but it can actually be quite tricky! This problem has been unsolved for over 80 years!

I look at different ways to rip up our treasure map and develop strategies to investigate the clues we find from the pieces. Then I try to put it all back together.
I study puzzles, but what area of science do my puzzles belong to? Would you believe me if I told you this is maths? Maths can be more than just numbers and calculations; it’s the language of the universe, and it can be puzzles, patterns, creativity, and treasure maps too!