A DUBLIN schoolboy who is a self-taught maths whizz has become the 50th winner of a prestigious young scientist competition.
Fifth-year student Paul Clarke (17) of St Paul's College in Raheny scooped the top prize for a project entitled 'contributions to cyclic graph theory'.
Paul was presented with a cheque for €5,000 and will now represent Ireland at the 26th European Union Young Scientist competition taking place in September.
His theory brought the mathematical world a step closer to a solution to a problem that has baffled scientists since the 1930s.
But Paul said that he had deeply enjoyed every moment he had worked on it – more than 300 hours in total, he reckoned.
"It's what I really love – something I can work on in my head without needing pen and paper," he said.
The son of two music teachers, Paul first realised maths was his forte in fourth year.
Nobody else in his family is interested in maths, he revealed.
Paul came out ahead of the more than 1,160 students from 210 schools nationwide who competed at this year's BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
The award for individual runner-up went to second year student Shane Curran (13) from Terenure College in Dublin.
The announcement was made in the BT Arena at Dublin's RDS by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Colm O'Neill of BT Ireland.
As part of his prize, Paul will go on a trip to Silicon Valley in California to meet BT's Innovation team.