'Mike's Math'

How one teacher is using "Mike's Math" to make numbers fun.

ByABC News
November 30, 2006, 2:07 PM

Sep. 7, 2007 — -- "My name's Mike Byster, and according to psychologists I have one of the fastest mathematical minds in the world."

This is what Mike Byster told students at his "Mike's Math" seminars, and he wasn't exaggerating.

Mike Byster is a math teacher, but he's also a human calculator. He can answer complex math problems in front of his students instantaneously:

Miss Lewis: "999 divides by 56?" Byster: "That equals 17.83928571"

Byster created a system for solving complex math problems he calls "Mike's Math." The system uses a series of patterns and shortcuts that demystify how numbers work.

He shows students how to solve complex math problems in their heads, by teaching them math games, and different ways to categorize information. "Mike's Math" is changing how these students organize information, and is helping them improve in all areas of academics. Click here to visit Mike's Web site.

Byster started developing his system and methods at a young age. "I was always able to find patterns in things when I was a little kid. When I was 3 or 4, I was able to memorize all the presidents of the United States," Byster said. "Kids have such a tremendous amount of mental capacity if they push themselves and use it."

At a young age Byster applied his unusual talents for memorization to math problems, but he always wanted to do more than just party tricks with his special gift he didn't always intend to become a teacher.

Today Byster lives with his wife, Robin, and 8-year-old son, Joshua, in a suburb of Chicago.

"When I first met him he was working at the mercantile exchange and he wasn't so happy. He always knew he wanted to do more," Robin Byster said. "And I have to say that I think the most rewarding or heartwarming thing about being married to him is that he is doing what he loves, and he's doing what he was born to do," she said.

Byster changed careers after a cousin called in a favor. "I knew I had a system, but I thought I was the only one that could do my system," he recalled, "and one day my cousin who was a math teacher asked me to come and speak to her class, and the kids loved it."