On January 27, 1954, a baby boy was born in a village called Chartar located in the Armenian region of Karabagh. His parents named him Levon. On July 20, 1955, a baby girl was born in another village of Karabagh - Getashen. She was named Nelli. The paths of Levon and Nelli crossed in 1973, while they were both studying computer science at Yerevan State University. They liked each other, then they loved each other, then they decided to get married. With the blessing of God and in the presence of 600 people, they wed in Chartar on April 14, 1979. One of the best families in the world was created.
On February 15, 1980, Levon and Nelli had their first baby boy. He was named Ashot. That baby was me. On June 23, 1981, the second son was born in that family and he was named Ara.
This is one of my first pictures with my Dad.
I was born and raised in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Armenia is a wonderful country and it's heart - Yerevan - is a beautiful place with many historic monuments. I love Yerevan and it played a great role in shaping my personality. During my childhood, I spent almost 2-3 months of every summer in our village - Chartar, and since then I felt in love with the gorgeous land of Karabagh and it's wonderful people.
I don't remember much from my early childhood. Like other kids in my neighborhood, I grew up by playing soccer, fighting with other guys, learning street diplomacy and studying in school. I was a straight A student and managed to keep that tradition through my life. When I was approximately 11 years old, I read my first book which was the "Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas and very much enjoyed it. I read a considerable number of similar novels in the next couple of years. I went to a special science-oriented high school in Yerevan called Fizmat. Fizmat was the best high school in Armenia at that time and studying there was academically challenging, but also fun. During my years at Fizmat I started to participate in math and computer science Olympiads and started to realize the true beauty of math and computer programming. I became a winner of a number of nationwide Olympiads during that period and as a member of Armenian team participated in the International Olympiads in Bombay (India, 1996, math) and in Budapest (Hungary, 1996, computer science). The Olympiads have been very interesting life experience for me. They were very competitive and they required creative and non-standard thinking. I love competing and that love started from those Olympiads.
During my high school years, my father was working in Syracuse, NY
for 1.5 years and my Mom, Ara and I were staying with him. It was an
interesting and challenging period in my life. It was interesting because I
went to an American high school and it was interesting to learn a new
language, new culture and new customs. On the other hand it was challenging
because even though I was respected in our school (I was the leader of its
math team), I didn't have any friends there. I think almost all students that
come to US during middle school or high school years from countries that are
poorly represented in US schools go through such period of time. That
experience, however, gave me an opportunity to learn that a person can live a
reasonably happy life for some time without having friends and for that a very
high level of self respect and self confidence is required.
I guess that many people who knew me thought that I would choose an academic career i.e. do a Ph.D., then get a professorship at some university and do a scientific research and teach for the rest of my life. I decided not to choose that route, because I know that by nature I like exciting jobs, challenges, risks, big rewards and I didn't see those opportunities in career of a scientist (at least for me). Many people told me that "You have the talents to become an excellent scientist", but I knew that I didn't have the passion for that.
After finishing my masters degree, I worked for a few months at Los Alamos National Laboratories and after that I spent a few months working for a .com company. Currently I work at the Math Department of MIT and develop educational software tools that professors use in classrooms and for homework assignments.
Things that I like in life
Few personal thoughts
I consider myself a very lucky person. I have been born in a wonderful family with quite good set of talents. Those two factors - the family in which one was born and the talents that one was given at the time of his/her birth - are probably the two most important factors determining person's life road and it's success. And both of these factors are outside one's control. I consider myself lucky because both of these factors of mine - given to me by God through my parents - are great. I've been raised in a family which enforces highest moral standards and currently I live in a country that
offers the greatest opportunities. I'm truly lucky and I feel that I can achieve a lot in my life. I strongly believe, however, that those of us who are fortunate in life (and I don't necessarily mean financially) should help those that are not as lucky as we are.
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