Arthur Rubin, 18, is the youngest graduate student in the history of the California Institute of Technology. Possessed of an I.Q. “beyond measuring,” Arthur at 4 was solving college algebra problems, at 8 was taking calculus courses at Michigan State, and at 14 was getting credit for graduate work at Purdue, where both his parents are professors of mathematics. At 20, he’ll be a Ph.D.
At the moment, Arthur is trying to prove or disprove a conjecture he has about lattice theory—an abstract branch of mathematics concerning sets and order relationships. Solving the problem could take as long as a year. Meanwhile, to unwind he likes to watch TV, using what he calls “the randomization technique. That’s like throwing darts at the TV Guide and watching whatever you hit.” But what really turns Arthur on are pinball machines. “There’s a lot of randomness to those things,” he muses, savoring the risk of computing probabilities.
So far, genius has not spoiled Arthur Rubin. Last winter an overflow crowd came to hear him present a paper at a conference of the American Mathematical Society in San Francisco. Says Arthur modestly, “I think it was full only because it was such a small room.”
Stephanie Mills was told that she sang even before she talked. At 7, she remembers, she wanted to become either “a singing doctor or a singing lawyer.” Now, having just finished her sophomore year in high school, Stephanie’s big voice and talent have earned her the plummy role of Dorothy in Wiz, an all-black musical version of The Wizard of Oz opening on Broadway in the fall.
One of six children of a construction worker, Stephanie lives with her parents in Brooklyn. She grew up singing in the Cornerstone Baptist Church choir and at P.S. 269, which recently presented her with a music award for all-around excellence. The award has been given only once before—to alumna Barbra Streisand. Stephanie’s professional career began at age 9, when she answered a newspaper ad and landed a part in the musical Maggie Flynn. At 13 she won seven talent contests in a row at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, a feat that led to a just-released single—I Knew It Was Love. With all that behind her, and a chance to step, as it were, into Judy Garland’s shoes, what is she worrying about? “My weight and my braces.”