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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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More balls than most

Parit Jakhria, head of quantitative research at PMG, Prudential also turns out to be an obsessive juggler, and has taught the skill to many of his colleagues. Back in university he wrote his Master’s thesis on The Mathematics of Juggling, and he hasn’t taken a strictly ‘non-juggling’ holiday for over five years (the closest being a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro, where he juggled at the summit, and Snowdon, which he climbed while juggling all the way).

What made you take up juggling?
I inadvertently stumbled upon the Juggling Society practice session beneath my halls of residence at Warwick University more than seven years ago. Having always been fascinated by the circus as a child but never having had an opportunity to try, I decided to give it a go. Much to my amazement, I realised that I had a knack for juggling and circus art. I was completely hooked.

Tell us about the mathematics of juggling and your thesis
In a nutshell, it builds a mathematical model to represent juggling patterns, and utilises number theory and topology to create operations that transform one ‘jugglable’ pattern into another. My thesis specialised on patterns with multiple hands, generalised so that the hands could also be ‘juggled’. The most memorable part for me was proving the validity of new patterns by actually juggling them.

What is the most number of objects that you have juggled?
A ‘qualify’ is defined as throwing and catching every object at least twice. I have qualified 7 balls and rings, and hope to qualify 8 rings soon (currently at 15 catches!)

What were your juggling highlights for 2008?
I have spent a considerable amount of holiday and weekends at juggling conventions and made a lot of progress on my goals of 6, 7 and 8-ring juggling and balancing this year. I was also invited to judge the Dutch National Juggling Championships in May.

What are your next goals/challenges?
I want to focus on a combination of juggling and balance, for example juggling rings with a pole balanced on my forehead, whilst simultaneously balancing on a walking globe. I also wish to juggle up Mt Kilimanjaro some day...