I’ve had some great conversations over the past few weeks with folks in the math community.
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Richard Rusczyk and Dave Patrick PhD ’97, two of the folks behind The Art of Problem Solving (AoPS). The fantastic AoPS offerings include great textbooks for gifted math students, an active and interactive forum (merged with MathLinks) for discussions of math and math problems, and online classes. I’m very excited about what Richard, Dave, and the entire AoPS crew are doing. I hope that if you’re interested in and excited about math, you’ll check it out.
The Art of Problem Solving folks also run the San Diego Math Circle, which I had a chance to visit. A Math Circle (like the ones in Berekeley and Boston) is a gathering of K-12 students for the purpose of exploring math. On the Saturday morning that I visited, more than 100 people were in attendance (including parents), the plurality of whom where students in grades 6-10. I spoke briefly to the group, talking about how students should follow their passions and not take a formulaic approach to life for the purpose of college admissions. I may have been preaching to the choir — these students were already following their passion for math.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a high school math class taught by Zuming Feng. Dr. Feng is the coach of the US International Math Olympiad team, author of a number of math books, and a great math teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. The class is a proof-based number theory class and is very interactive. The problems presented on this day were well beyond the level we ever talked about in my high school math classes, such as, “Let p be a prime. Show that there are infinitely many positive integers n such that p divides 2n – n.”
And finally, on Wednesday night, I did an online chat with the AoPS community called a “Math Jam. I co-hosted the Math Jam with MIT Math professor Kiran Kedlaya. What was this like, you ask? It was like the Questions Omnibus Olympics. People posed so many questions so quickly that I had trouble keeping up! Anyway, Kiran and I did as best we could keeping order and answering questions without making too many typos. Anyway, you may be interested in checking out the Math Jam transcript for even more Q&A fun.
And finally tonight, what better link to leave you with tonight but the MIT Math Department?