Impacts of MathILy Experiences

Our students go on to do great things: MathILy participants have attended MIT, Harvey Mudd, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Swarthmore, Oxford, Carleton, Carnegie Mellon, Brown, U Waterloo, UCLA, Haverford, Caltech, Stony Brook, and other excellent colleges. They have participated in PRIMES-USA and in Research Experiences for Undergraduates, published papers, scored well on the Putnam exam, gone to graduate school at U Chicago and U Penn, and attended national mathematics conferences.


contemplating hyperbolic geometry

Comments on MathILy 2018:

Ian Cheung: The themes I learned from MathILy--asking questions, speaking up, presenting well--apply to any form of education. I am not just a more confident mathematician: I am a more confident student, period. Put shortly: In my 5 weeks here, I learned that I can learn how to learn.

Jonathan Shoung: I really enjoyed my time here at MathILy, the environment was exactly what I hoped it would be like. It was great to be around people who shared my interest in mathematics, as well as in other topics and areas. I feel like being here has not only expanded my view on mathematics, but also my world view.

Annika Mauro: I learned that all the math I know is not as deep or intense as the real stuff here. I ended up learning real deep hard fantastic math... My experiences here will completely change how I experience math in the future. I feel like I understand proof and rigor in math which I did not before. Before, I thought math was beautiful simply for its intuition... I have a high bar for comparison now for math class and math passion and I know that going back to the real world will be a disappointing slow-down, finally succumbing to gravity... Thank you for this amazing, math-world-changing experience! Every single instructor here is such a fantastic person and gives me so much joy and hope for my future in math and in general.

Allen Wang, referring to Week of Chaos: But in all seriousness we covered a freaking semester in like that week!

Ian Shors: I've come to understand the necessity of being able to prove everything you say you know, because if you can't prove it, how do you know you know it? And, furthermore, if you know it, but can't convey your knowledge to others, then what is it worth? ...Because of the way our classes were structured, I could see the motivation behind almost everything we studied, which is an aspect I very rarely get in my standard math classes. I also feel like I have a much better understanding of how real math is done, and how it feels to be doing math at a higher level.

Joyce Yuan: I wanted to be exposed to mathematics that wasn't the bland and repetitive tactics taught at school. At school, I felt the lack of opportunity to get exposed to more interesting mathematical topics, or to develop my own ideas. Coming to MathILy, I have certainly learned a lot... I met many great minds whose stimulating ideas will never let me view the world the same way, and I met many amazing people who I hope to keep in touch with.

Jonathan H.: Root classes have taught me a whole ton of new stuff, (and I really like how you do correctly expect that our perceived understanding of topics is far less than what it actually is) so my expectation for serious maths was met. The activities that I've participated in after classes have made me appreciate how nice this community this is and how we share a similar sense of humor.

Hayden Lieb: These five weeks have probably been the best weeks of my life, so I have decided that I am almost certainly going to major in mathematics... the concepts and methods I have learned here will certainly carry me through the next several steps of my life in math, such as competitions, applications, and early college classes, and will hopefully guide my thought process beyond that... Thank you for having me at MathILy! I have had a wonderful experience here. I was not lying when I said that this has been the best five weeks of my life.

Minkyu S.: First, before coming to this program, I struggled to self-learn areas of math... However, in this program, I think I found answers to a lot of my struggles. In this perspective, I think I was very successful and I feel more confident about self-studying.

Abhinav Mukherjee: I was looking for a challenging maths program, which would feature heavily in the kind of maths I had explored on my own outside the classroom. However, MathILy exceeded my expectations, as I am now coming to rethink my approach towards problems and rigour.


making paper models

Comments on MathILy 2016:

Athina Avrantini: ...over the five weeks, I have learned more stuff than my last few years of school combined! After spending five weeks here, I realized how learning math should be and it became clear to me that this is what I want to do. ... As someone who is used to being the best in my class for all my life, coming here has been a very enlightening, eye-opening experience. I realized how little I know and how much there is to learn!

Michael Tang: When I first arrived in Root class, I was taken aback by the very free and student-driven style of teaching. Since then, I have been continually surprised at the talent of my fellow students for finding patterns and meaning in problems that they and I have never seen before. ... MathILy, more than anything for me, has been a greatly enriching social and learning environment, where I have made new friends, learned about different cultures, and become better at solving anagrams. MathILy has expanded my horizons in many different directions... The connections I've built to friends and mentors will be invaluable, I think, for finding new opportunities later in life.

Meghana Vemulapalli: My goals in coming to MathILy included engaging with areas of math that I had previously not encountered and improving my proof-writing skills. The first goal was met many times over---WoC and Branch have shown me fascinating areas that I hadn't previously known of... MathILy had a powerful impact on me and I'm so glad to have learned more math and met many other excited mathematicians there.

Hussain Waris: Not only did I learn so much more than I thought I would, I also learned that math is definitely what I want to do in the future.

Luke M.: ... I think that loads of doors have been opened, or at least pushed wider than they were before... I'm often amazed at how easy many obscure topics, such as graph theory, can be, if only they don't tell you what you're getting into until you're having so much fun drawing spaghetti monsters that there's no turning back.

Éva Siladji: I didn't know it was possible to learn so many things in such short period of time! I think I understood majority of it, and I won't forget them easily, mostly because of the way we learned them, discovering all the things by ourselves, and not having everything handed to us on a plate.

Allen Wang: Overall, I'm having the best time of my life at MathILy... I've learned more math than I ever knew and learned how to tackle unfamiliar problems and problems that I don't even know how to approach.

Kye W. Shi: Only at MathILy did I feel that I was working with my peers rather than teaching/assisting/explaining concepts most of the time. Kudos to all of you at MathILy for running and being part of the most engaging and most exciting summer program ever (from my perspective, at least)! Yay!

Kaili Liu: This summer is definitely a valuable experience, and it is the first time I have learned so much in one summer (and also had fun!)... I now find attempting extra-hard problems a fun activity... after arriving at MathILy, the "levity" part of MathILy kicked in and attempting such problems became a fun activity where I felt determined to find a clear (and hopefully creative/innovative) answer---I learned how to view a problem from varying perspectives from others at MathILy.


collaborative cryptographic coding

Comments on MathILy 2014:

David Gonzalez: ...MathILy has been a life altering, transcendental, suburb (I didn't mean 'suburb,' but 'superb'---No. suburb. I meant 'suburb.' I made no mistake.), experience that I will inevitably associate introducing me to proof-based math for the rest of my life. Just experiencing this program has grown my love of math to an unprecedented level.

Tracy Wan: The MathILy community consists of people from various culture and geographical backgrounds. During one of our talks, we noticed that together, we speak more than 10 different languages. I really enjoyed the diversity of the group and learning about different cultures.

Dennis Yatunin: I think the most valuable thing I've gotten from MathILy is the ability to think properly. Rather than believe anything that appears correct, I now look towards proving it using the techniques I've learned here... I've gotten more out of this than I ever dreamed I could, and I loved every single minute of it. I put a lot of effort into participating in class and doing the problem sets, and it's all paid off. I feel like I now have a far better understanding of what mathematics is truly about (and how immensely misleading high school math classes are).

Erica Nathan: I know that my time at MathILy will have a tremendous impact on my future studies, math classes and beyond. I loved hearing about so many applications outside of pure mathematics... MathILy has been an absolutely stellar summer program and I can't wait to use what I've learned.

Josh G.: In less than 2 weeks, my outlook on life has changed already. I hadn't met people so similar to me until now, and it's great!

Jo B.: I also wanted to make sure that I did indeed want to do a Math major at college because I felt like I had not had enough experience to really know, but now I am sure! I definitely do.
I don't want to go home, I just don't. The only consolation is that I'll get to go to Europe and see some people. I would like to stay here forever.

Mo K.: Thoroughly learning such concepts literally changed the way I view mathematics, from numbers of equations with different variables to concept and logic. Attending MathILy made me determined to study math further, as it showed me how much more math there is for me to explore.

Cat O'Donnell: The teaching style at MathILy gives me the support I need to be comfortable asking questions... This creates an environment where I can be sure I understand what is going on enough to be able to contribute... The really enjoyable and funny group of students and instructors at MathILy are also great.

Nathan Smith: My goal in coming to MathILy was to learn more mathematics and meet with others who share my passion. I can safely say both of these goals have been achieved.

Comments on MathILy 2017:

Oliver Hayman: I think MathILy best taught me about the type of work mathematicians do. I think through some of the Daily Gathers and classes, I learned more about higher level math topics that are studied by mathematicians---topics which I hadn't encountered before at school or on competitions. MathILy gave me a sort of introduction of the type of experience I'd have if I chose to pursue a career in pure mathematics.

Brian L.: I had a great time and got a lot out of MathILy!

Lavinia Delfini: The math I do at school is really different from what we did here, but I feel like this experience will help me anyway. I've learned to think about math in a totally different way, and the fact that I learned how to write proofs will help me with math competitions. This experience also made me start thinking of math as something that I might like to keep studying after high school.

Henry Hale: I came to MathILy hoping to find out more about the structure of learning as well as the content in higher math, and I now know a lot more than I did about what there is to know and how I can best learn it.

Wen P.: One of my main goals in coming to MathILy was to branch out from my primarily contest math background... My studies in contest math would never have led me into Complex Analysis (which is the coolest math course I've taken), knot theory, or almost everything in my branch class. The branching out gave me the sense "math is awesome" again, since contest math tended to get somewhat repetitive (as in there were 4 main types of problems, using the same 4 major groups of technique) after my many years of doing it.

Artur Amorim: I came here thinking that I knew more that I actually did. When I realized this, at first, it was a disappointment. But, after I saw that this was a good thing, because I could still learn a lot of things.


field extension collaboration

Comments on MathILy 2015:

Charlotte Kavaler: I think that the program overall was fantastic. I really didn't know, when I first came here, if I would like it, but I definitely have, and it has taught me so much about things I had never even thought about... On top of learning new things, I have also learned how to think about subjects I already know about in greater depth and from a different perspective.

Eugene Shao: I've experienced graduate-level math to math that I didn't even know existed... MathILy doesn't have the normal school environment one would expect; the classes demand students to discover many of the things by themselves. I love this technique of teaching because, instead of a teacher lecturing, we can discover theorems on our own, learn the topic better, and know when to use it.

Laurel N.: I got exposed to areas of math that I'd only ever heard about, discovered some areas that I was really interested in, and got to work with people who were interested in math and learning and delving deeper into the problems... the Week of Chaos classes managed to be surprisingly detailed given the amount of time available, which was awesome.

Hugh G.: My goals were to... learn how to be the coolest cool kid and with what I know now, well, no one can say that I'm not the swaggiest person at school.

Yiting Y.: I gained a deeper understanding of math and realized what real math learning should be---generating conjectures and creating new things. I am extremely horrified at the thought of returning to the traditional math class at school. ...I learnt a great amount of math, realized that math is way cooler than I thought, and have become a bolder and more energetic person in class... The experience here at MathILy has been inspiring and transformative.

Jamie Gu: I had a very good experience... The program is different and a lot better than what I was expecting before coming. I like this format of learning because we have more interactions with others and we all have fun.

Esther Plotnick: When I was originally applying, I was a little hesitant to spend five weeks away from home to do math... I am so glad that I made the decision to apply... I definitely learned a lot over the past five weeks---way more than I ever anticipated. I now have a great curiosity about mathematics that I didn't have before, and I am very happy about that.

Kye Shi: One of my main aims before coming to MathILy was to learn about all sorts of different subjects in math---throughout the past several weeks, that has definitely been covered... I had a ton of fun developing math skills and learning how cool math topics relate to each other and explain things. I'm sure that, later in life, whatever skills I develop(ed) here I will use again whenever I do math.

Nadav Kohen: Over the past five weeks, I've gotten better and more comfortable writing detailed and sometimes long proofs more rigorously. ...I feel much more prepared than I was five weeks ago for this coming year and its proof classes... I can't believe I've been here for a full 5 weeks and I'm really sad that it's almost time to go but I'm certainly even more excited about math now and look forward to doing more!


laughter in combinatorial optimization

Comments on MathILy 2013:

Andy Zhang: I'm so happy that our classes are being taught the way they are being taught. Here, the things that we come up with ourselves matter... It feels great and even motivational to see our own conjectures appearing on the problem sets.
The past five weeks have been so amazing. I feel like I have never had a more productive summer than this one, and I certainly never learned this much stuff and had this much fun at the same time.

...from a parent: I can't tell you how much MathILy has meant to [my daughter] - it's like she discovered a whole new world. It was the first time in her life that she was truly academically challenged and she loved being part of a community where people were so excited about math.

Lydia Wickard: MathILy will help me in the future in 1000 ways.

Brandon H.: One of my main goals when coming into MathILy was to learn new types of math. I have known for a long time that I want to do math when I get a job, but I never knew about the many fields of mathematics. I'm happy to say that this goal was fulfilled... I was especially excited for applications of mathematics in game theory and economics, but I was surprised to find myself extremely intrigued by Markov chains and combinatorial optimization as well. I believe now that I have a wider view of the different fields of mathematics and will be better able to make choices regarding what I want to do later in my life.

Josh Mundinger: There's no BS here, no showing off, none of the surrounding clouds and fog that shroud any ordinary attempt to understand math. ... I have been having an amazing time outside of the classroom, whether talking about math in the dining hall, playing Pandemic (we won today!) or throwing a frisbee.

Rashmika Goswami: I've met a lot of great people who love math, and been able to see the many interesting variations and applications of math in other fields through the Daily Gathers.

MathILy, MathILy-Er, and MathILy-EST are projects of the nonprofit organization Mathematical Staircase, Inc..