Archive for February, 2009

dr-jonathan-kane-vectors-21This Saturday we are pleased to welcome back Dr. Jonathan Kane.  Dr. Kane’s lecture on vectors promises to be a very good one.  Like many of our best lectures, it appears that Dr. Kane will start with a very basic and intuitive explanation of vectors and will build up to the use of vectors as powerful tools for solving complex problems.

Dr. Kane is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  He is a member of the AIME Committee and a co-founder of the Purple Comet! Math Meet.


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We are very fortunate to have Alan Davis talk about combinatorics on February 21, 2009. His talk about combinatorics will include the following topics: Counting permutations and combinations, counting with repetition, binomial coefficients, Pascal’s triangle, Pascal’s identity, Vandermonde’s identity, and the inclusion-exclusion principle.
Combinatorics is related to many other areas of mathematics such as algebra, probability, and geometry, and also computer science and statistics. More information about this interesting branch of mathematics can be found here.

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During the spring school vacation students in north Texas will have a unique opportunity to combine their interests in math and chess.  March 16-20, Dr. Titu Andreescu will join efforts with International Chess Master Marco Zivanic to create a unique and intense program at the QD Academy in Plano, TX (corner of Legacy and Coit).

This program has two parts:  math and chess.  Students can choose one of the two or both.

knightThe mathematics segment is designed for students who like to engage in meaningful problem solving activities.   It is intended for students who have a particular interest in math competitions as well as for those who wish to explore higher level mathematics well beyond the regular school curriculum.

The mathematics component will be structured as follows:  intermediate (3rd to 5th grade) and advanced (6th to 9th grade).

The advanced level will be offered in the morning and the intermediate level in the afternoon.

The chess program focuses on developing competitive chess skills.  It will strengthen your understanding of the opening, middle and end game.   Classes will be organized according to students’ ability, experience and instructor’s assessment.

All students are invited to our AwesomeChess tournament on Thursday, March 19th.  It will be a USCF rated three-round tourney starting at 6 PM.  The entrance fee for non-participating camp students is $20.

The cost of the Math and Chess Spring Program is $320 for one session (chess or math) or $575 for both.  This includes snacks for AM and PM sessions as well as lunch for students attending both sessions, medals, certificates of participation and tournament entrance fee.

For more information and sign up forms please come to the next Metroplex Math Circle or contact Dr. Andreescu directly at titu@awesomemath.org.

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There are few things more gratifying than seeing a new Math Circle take root.  This time it is particularly exciting to see a new Math Circle in the metroplex.  The Mid-Cities Math Circle should be a great resource for students from the western end of the metroplex or anyone looking for more challenging and inspiring math during the week.  The following information is from their brochure.

Mid-Cities Math Circle (MC)² Seminar

Goals: The main goal of the Mid-Cities Math Circle seminar is to provide a stimulating environment for local area middle- and high-school students to learn mathematics. Regular attendance of the (MC)2 seminar will help students not only improve their individual problem-solving skills, but also enjoy and understand mathematics better. More specifically the Mid-Cities Math Circle seminar will

  • attract students’ attention to mathematics and motivate them to excel in the subject;
  • prepare students for mathematical contests;
  • introduce them to the beauty of advanced mathematical theories;
  • encourage them to pursue careers related to mathematics such as scientists, educators, engineers, economists, and business leaders.

General Information: The seminar runs every Spring Semester and is designed for students in 8th-12th grades.   students in lower grades are welcome as well but should be advised that a solid mathematical background is required in order to follow the discussions. For more information about the Mid-Cities Math Circle seminar please visit the following web-site:


Applying for the (MC)² Seminar: There is no cost for attending the seminar. If you want to participate in the Mid-Cities Math Circle, please send an e-mail with your name, grade and your school name to Dr. Dimitar Grantcharov at grandim@uta.edu.

(MC)² Director

Dimitar Grantcharov, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Algebra and Geometry

  • Session Leader, San Jose Math Circle, 2004-2008.
  • Guest Lecturer, COSMOS Program at UC Irvine, 1998-2003.
  • Bronze Medal, XXX International Mathematical Olympiad, 1989.
  • First place, VI Balkan Mathematical Olympiad, 1989.
  • First place, Bulgarian National Mathematical Olympiad, 1989.

(MC)² Faculty

Hristo Kojouharov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Biology

Gaik Ambartsoumian, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Analysis and Integral Geometry

Steven Pankavich, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Differential Equations and Analysis

Alicia Prieto Langarica
Ph.D. Candidate of Mathematics

  • Guest Lecturer, Metroplex Math Circle at UT Dallas, 2008.
  • First place, Mexican National Mathematical Olympiad, 2002.
  • First place, Mexican National Mathematical Olympiad, 2001.

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Dr. Zuming Feng, coach of the US IMO team and author of multiple books on Olympiad problem solving, shared valuable techniques for solving the Diophantine Equations which occur frequently in problem solving contests.

The students worked through a series of increasingly difficult problems and Dr. Feng guided them through ways to leverage their number sense and algebra to limit the number of possible solutions saving them invaluable time in a contest situation.

If you missed Dr. Feng this weekend we are happy to say that he will be returning to Metroplex Math Circle on March 7th.   The video below shows Dr. Feng discussing solutions to the 2006 International Mathematics Olympiad.

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ChessFest Making Some New Moves This Year

Expanded Schedule Includes Seminar and Supersize ‘Grande’ Demos

Feb. 5, 2009

This year’s expanded ChessFest schedule includes the debut of a Chess and Education seminar as well as “Chess Grande” demonstrations of games and moves using a supersized board and pieces.

The festival, which will also feature a lecture and presentation of the annual Chess Educator of the Year Award, is Feb. 24 and 25 on the UT Dallas campus.

ChessFest was created seven years ago by the university’s McDermott Library and the UT Dallas Chess Program.

See the UTD website for more information.

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We are very fortunate to have Dr. Zuming Feng present this coming Saturday.  Among his many other accomplishments, Dr. Feng is the current team leader of the US IMO team.

Dr. Zuming Feng, Phillips Exeter Academy

Zuming Feng received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University with emphasis on Algebraic Number Theory and Elliptic Curves. He teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy. Zuming also served as a coach of the USA IMO team (1997-2006), was the deputy leader of the USA IMO Team (2000-2002), and an assistant director of the USA Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program (1999-2002). He has been a member of the USA Mathematical Olympiad Committee since 1999, and has been the leader of the USA IMO team and the academic director of the USA Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program since 2003. Zuming is also co-founder and academic director of the AwesomeMath Summer Program (AMSP) since 2006. He received the Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished High School Mathematics Teaching from the MAA in 1996 and 2002. Related articles on this site.

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Here is an outline of Dr. Alexey Root’s talk 1/31/09 at the Metroplex Math Circle. Please note that we will accept answers for number 6 (the mobility calculation for the King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, and Knight) in the comment section below since Dr. Root did not have a chance to go over the answer to that problem.

1. Dr. Root began with the Knight’s Tour, based on her knight’s tour lesson plan on pages 62-63 of Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators. She was very impressed that Jeffrey Garrity, a math major from the University of Dallas (Irving, Texas) solved it on his first try.

2. Dr. Root had those who played tournament chess and those who knew en passant stand in the front of the room. Those who didn’t have that chess experience stayed seated. Volunteers counted the number of people in each part of the room which lead into a practical math problem of how to group those in attendance so that each group would have one tournament (or en passant-knowledgeable) player.

3. Everyone sat back down in their new groups, as indicated in 2. above.

4. Dr. Root gave an introduction to the role of domination in graph theory and in chess (quoted from her Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving, pages 37-38 )

science-math-checkmate5. Dr. Root taught two chess/math activities. These are domination activities from Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving (SMC):

A. Covering the Board: Rooks (pp. 38-42)
B. Covering the Board: Kings (pp. 42-45)


6. Dr. Root began the Mobility Lesson from pages 79-80 of her Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators. Mobility also has to do with the concept of dominance (coverage of squares). Students calculated the mobility of each piece from the corner and from the center. For example, a queen on an outside edge square can move to 21 squares, but if she is on a central square she can move to 27 squares. What is her average mobility? What is a rook’s average mobility? And so forth for each piece. The pawn is tricky because it moves one way and captures a different way, so you don’t have to calculate the pawn’s mobility unless you want to. Then figure out how this mobility relates to the traditional values listed for the chessmen: P(pawn)=1, N (knight)=3, B (bishop)=3, R(rook)=5, Q(queen)=9, K(king)=infinite but actually around 3.5-4. The answers to this mobility lesson were still being calculated at 4:10 p.m., when the Metroplex Math Circle wrapped up for the day.  Please post your answers in the comments section below.

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