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Archive for December, 2008


One of the newest but most distinguished summer camps for young problem solvers is AwesomeMath.  AwesomeMath draws faculty and students from around the country and around the world.  This year AwesomeMath will occur in two separate sessions on two campuses, our own UTD campus and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

We will be providing more information on AwesomeMath in the coming weeks, but here is the basic information from the AwesomeMath website:

What? A three-week intensive summer camp for mathematically gifted students from around the globe. This is an initiative in response to numerous requests from parents and teachers of bright students who have not yet shone at the Olympiad level, as well as of those wishing to expand what they have learned in programs such as MATHCOUNTS. These talented students wish to hone their problem solving skills in particular and further their mathematics education in general. Many of our participants seek to improve their performance on contests such as AMC10/12, AIME, or USAMO.

When? July 6 – 27, 2009 and July 31 – August 21, 2009.

Who? over 100 students in grades 7-11, distinguished faculty, a large group of mentors and assistants .

Where? At the University of Texas at Dallas (7/6-7/27) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (7/31-8/21).

Why? To offer gifted math students the opportunity to attend a high-quality summer program. You may access the AMSP 2009 Academic Curriculum here.

Here is a link to our 2009 brochure. You may also visit the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about AMSP 2009.

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This last semester marked some significant milestones in the first 3 years of the Metroplex Math Circle hosted by the University of Texas at Dallas.

Participation

Attendance for all Math Circle sessions was particularly high with at least 50 students, parents and teachers participating in each session.  This compares very favorably with many other math circles around the country.

Two of our sessions were particularly well attended.  The first session of the semester with Richard Rusczyk filled our regular room to capacity with over 104 attendees.  The special MMC event with Dr. Arthur Benjamin set a record with over 340 attendees from the local community.

Lecture Content and Speakers

As with all successful MMC semesters, Fall 2008 offered a great variety of pure and applied mathematics as well as new and returning speakers.

Topics this semester included:  combinatorics, cryptographymath and finance, number theory, and Dr. Andreescu’s expert coaching for AMC 8, AMC 10 and AMC 12 preparation.

We were very glad to have returning speakers like Alicia Prieto Langarica, Dr. Paul Stanford, and of course Dr. Titu Andreescu.  We were also fortunate to have new speakers travel from around the country to share their knowledge with us including Chengde Feng, Richard Rusczyk, Dr. Bennette Harris, Simion Filip and Dr. Tanya Khovanova.

News and Events

An important paper, Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving was published by Dr. Andreescu and his colleagues.  This paper set off a global debate in popular media including The New York TimesReuters India,  and Newsweek about the role of American culture in discouraging math achievement particularly among young women.

Metroplex Math Circle was also very happy to see a local math contest return to the Dallas area sponsored by the Malayalee Engineers Association of North Texas (MEANT).  Their event was very well attended by math circle participants who distinguished themselves in the contest.

Online Presence

Metroplex Math Circle has been very successful in supporting its local community in alignment with the goals and aspirations of the University of Texas at Dallas.   But we have also attempted to serve the global community and to promote the reputation of UTD through electronic media.

Since its launch in August, the new Metroplex Math Circle website has had over 8,600 unique page views.

The Yahoo Group currently has 97 members and is used to distribute information on upcoming events and to support discussions by students, parents and faculty members.

Metroplex Math Circle is also interconnecting to the global problem solving community through The Art of Problem Solving and the MSRI Math Circle Directory.

In 2009 we will continue to experiment with new media including an outpost on Facebook.

This semester was only successful due to the following contributions:

  • Generous sponsorship from the University of Texas at Dallas
  • Speakers willing to invest significant time to prepare lectures and travel great distances to share their love of problem solving
  • Parents sufficiently committed to the education of their students that they are willing to sacrifice a significant fraction of their weekends
  • Students who are willing to be attentive throughout the lectures and who are inspired to work on problems and ideas raised by math circle
  • And of course none of this would exist were it not for the original inspiration and continuing direction of Dr. Titu Andreescu

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High school students may want to consider the Canada/USA Mathcamp.

Mathcamp 2009 will be held at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, from July 5 to August 9.

Canada/USA Mathcamp is an intensive five-week-long summer program for high-school students interested in mathematics. Our goals are:

  • To inspire and motivate these students by introducing them to the beauty and variety of advanced mathematics
  • To impart valuable knowledge and skills for the pursuit of mathematics in high school, university, and beyond
  • To provide a supportive and fun environment for interaction among students who love mathematics.

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Another option for students 11-14 is MathPath.

MathPath 2009 will take place from June 28 (student arrival date) to July 26 (departure date) at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO.

MathPath offers students of middle school age who are extremely talented in mathematics the summer opportunity to learn and develop at a pace and to a depth that matches their abilities while also providing them the rich social and recreational experience of a residential summer camp. The camp shifts each year to a new campus in a quiet and beautiful area with clean air.

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promys-counselors4-tAnother alternative for summer mathematics camps is Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS) held at Boston University.

PROMYS is a challenging program designed to encourage ambitious high school students to explore the creative world of mathematics. Each summer, approximately 60 high school students from around the country gather on the campus of Boston University for six weeks of rigorous mathematical activity. Through their intensive efforts to solve an assortment of unusually challenging problems in Number Theory, participants will practice the art of mathematical discovery.

Students are advised by resident junior and assistant counselors who have just graduated high school, as well as college-aged counselors who are embarking on their own mathematical careers at some of our nation’s finest universities (Brown, California Institute of Technology, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Rochester Institute of Technology, Stanford, SUNY Stony Brook, UC San Diego, University of Chicago, and Yale, among others). In addition, the returning students, who share dormitory rooms with the first-year students, are a constant source of helpful hints and suggestions. Senior mathematicians provide an additional resource for students by holding problem sessions for groups of 11-12 up to three times per week.

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rsi_logo_headerOne of the more elite camps for high school juniors is the Research Science Institute held at MIT.  Following is a brief description of the program.

Each summer approximately 75 high school students gather for six of the most stimulating weeks of their young lives. Selected from the United States and other nations, these students participate in a rigorous academic program which emphasizes advanced theory and research in mathematics, the sciences, and engineering.This is the Research Science Institute (RSI).

Students attend college-level classes taught by distinguished professors. Nationally recognized teachers conduct classes designed to sharpen research skills. In addition, students complete hands-on research with top mentors at corporations, universities, and research organizations.

Many RSI students use their RSI research projects as a basis for entry to science competitions, garnering top awards in the annual Intel Science Talent Search, the Siemens-Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition, and the All-USA High School Academic Scholarship.

The uniqueness of CEE lies in its commitment to help RSI alumni throughout their academic careers – from college selection through search for graduate fellowships, fostering a community with both camaraderie and intellect. CEE’s follow-up program includes helping alumni find suitable summer employment, sponsoring trips to other nations for alumni as Junior Ambassadors, and many other activities.

RSI is open to students who have completed the third year of high school, or the equivalent, by the summer of 2009. The twenty-sixth annual summer session of RSI will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from June to August, 2009.

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It may be freezing outside, but ironically now is the best time to be considering mathematical and science camps for next summer.  We will try to profile many of them before the next semester of Metroplex Math Circle finishing Dr. Andreescu’s own highly regarded program, AwesomeMath.  Following is information about HCSSiM:

The Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSiM)

hcssim-logoThe 37th session (June 28–August 8, 2009) of the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics will again bring talented high school students to Hampshire’s rural campus to discover, to share, and to enjoy mathematics.

Since 1971 HCSSiM students, guided by teams of college teachers, graduate students, and undergraduate math majors, have investigated challenging problems in number theory, combinatorics, graph theory, n-dimensional and non-Euclidean geometry, dynamics, fractals, chaos, mathematical origami and much more.  Students seek patterns, formulate conjectures and definitions, build theories and create proofs.  Our small classes and workshops meet for 4 hours each morning and in informal collaborative evening problem seminars.  The faculty live on campus and join students for meals and recreation.

Our intention isn’t to necessarily endorse any one program but to make everyone aware of their options for this and future summers.

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Achieve and the Dana Center at UT Austin have developed a series of benchmarks for high school students to succeed in post secondary education.  The entire list may be of interest, but the benchmark for Discrete Mathematics covers many of the topics that students experience only through Math Circle.  Here is the description of the importance of Discrete Math:

Discrete mathematics, sometimes called finite mathematics, can be thought of as the science of counting, arrangements, and algorithms. It offers a plethora of concrete, practical problems (e.g., fair apportionment, searching algorithms, error-correction methods) and a wealth of subtle problems whose statements are deceptively simple but whose solutions provide significant challenge. While events in the physical world are most often modeled by continuous mathematics (i.e., the calculus and prerequisite topics in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry), the increasingly important world of computers, information technology, and logistics employs a different type of mathematics. New approaches and applications require the use of discrete processes, many of which have not traditionally been included in core high school courses. To be well prepared for the future, all students need to understand the concepts and applications of this important area of mathematics.

Hat tip:  Math Forum Internet News

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Our last lecture of fall 2008 by Dr. Tanya Khovanova reprised many of the themes that made this semester memorable.

The very first lecture by Richard Rusczyk emphasized the importance of playfulness to encourage a deep understanding in problem solvers.  Many of our speakers continued this theme, and Dr. Khovanova’s first lecture on binary numbers was a perfect example.

She encouraged the students to work together in small groups and issued them the challenge to guess a day in the month by asking only 5 yes or no questions.  Using binary she was able to teach them a memorable “trick” to always getting the right answer.  She followed this with an exercise with playing cards which by applying a binary technique quickly sorted the deck into order.

After the break, Dr. Khovanova showed some of the web sites she had developed and others that are used by professional mathematicians:

Number Gossip is a particularly interesting web site developed by Dr. Khovanova that lists multiple interesting properties for any number the user enters.  This recalls Dr. Paul Stanford’s own book of interesting numbers which he shared with us earlier in the semester.

The Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences is a tool sponsored by AT&T Research which contains many documented sequences from the well-known Fibonacci numbers to more obscure sequences.

The Pi-Search Page is a fun tool which allows the user to find a sequence of digits anywhere in the number Pi.

The Secret Lives of Numbers is a tool based upon all of the number references collected by Google.  It is an interesting way to see how frequently specific numbers occur in our daily lives.

Dr. Khovanova’s Own Site has many useful essays and references for young problem solvers.

We are very grateful to Dr. Khovanova and all of our speakers for making this an excellent Fall semester and we look forward to the Spring.

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As we look forward to our last lecture of the 2008 fall semester with Dr. Tanya Khovanova, I am happy to announce the dates for Metroplex Math Circle spring 2009:

Jan. 17, 24, 31
Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28
March 7, 14, 28
April 4, 18

Dr. Andreescu is already lining up some very interesting new speakers for us.

Please consult the Schedule page for details on speakers and their topics as these dates approach.

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