When I was about 4 years old, I read a book called something like `The Book of Experiments', by (I think) Leonard de Vries. That got me hooked on physics, and for several years I was convinced that I wanted to be a physicist.

Then, in secondary school, I ran across the British Mathematical Olympiad. I was staggered: I hadn't known that mathematics could be so much fun. Since then I have been, one way or another, a mathematician.

I now have a PhD in mathematics. It's all to do with circle packings, an interesting but minor area of mathematics with fascinating connections to complex analysis, random walks and all sorts of other things. You can read my PhD thesis [gzipped PostScript, about 160k] if you want.

In one way I think my early involvement with Mathematical Olympiads and suchlike has damaged my mathematical taste: I still have this feeling that short, elegant problems should have short, elegant solutions, and that one should be able to do mathematics without absorbing a lot of difficult stuff first. Unfortunately, this is all false.

I'll write more here when I think of what to write...