Madison Math Circle: Difference between revisions

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Revision as of 20:46, 22 January 2018


For the site in Spanish, visit Math Circle de Madison

What is a Math Circle?

The Madison Math Circle is a weekly series of mathematically based activities aimed at interested middle school and high school students. It is an outreach program organized by the UW Math Department. Our goal is to provide a taste of exciting ideas in math and science. In the past we've had talks about plasma and weather in outer space, video game graphics, and encryption. In the sessions, students (and parents) are often asked to explore problems on their own, with the presenter facilitating a discussion. The talks are independent of one another, so new students are welcome at any point.

The level of the audience varies quite widely, including a mix of middle school and high school students, and the speakers generally address this by considering subjects that will be interesting for a wide range of students.

MathCircle 2.jpg MathCircle 4.jpg

After each talk we'll have pizza provided by the Mathematics Department, and students will have an opportunity to mingle and chat with the speaker and with other participants, to ask questions about some of the topics that have been discussed, and also about college, careers in science, etc.

The Madison Math circle was featured in Wisconsin State Journal: check it out!

All right, I want to come!

We have a weekly meeting, Monday at 6pm in 3255 Helen C White Library, during the school year. New students are welcome at any point! There is no fee and the talks are independent of one another, so you can just show up any week, but we ask all participants to take a moment to register by following the link below:

Math Circle Registration Form

All of your information is kept private, and is only used by the Madison Math Circle organizer to help run the Circle.

If you are a student, we hope you will tell other interested students about these talks, and speak with your parents or with your teacher about organizing a car pool to the UW campus. If you are a parent or a teacher, we hope you'll tell your students about these talks and organize a car pool to the UW (all talks take place in 3255 Helen C White Library, on the UW-Madison campus, right next to the Memorial Union).

Directions and parking

Our meetings are held on the 3rd floor of Helen C. White Hall in room 3255.


Parking. Parking on campus is rather limited. Here is as list of some options:

Email list

The best way to keep up to date with the what is going is by signing up for our email list. Send an empty email to

Contact the organizers

The Madison Math Circle is organized by a group of professors and graduate students from the Department of Mathematics at the UW-Madison. If you have any questions, suggestions for topics, or so on, just email the organizers here. We are always interested in feedback!


Please consider donating to the Madison Math Circle. As noted in our annual report, our main costs consist of pizza and occasional supplies for the speakers. So far our costs have been covered by donations from the UW Mathematics Department as well as a generous gifts from a private donor. But our costs are rising, primarily because this year we expect to hold more meetings than in any previous year. In fact, this year, we expect to spend at least $2500 on pizza and supplies alone.

So please consider donating to support your math circle! The easiest way to donate is to go to the link:

Online Donation Link

There are instructions on that page for donating to the Math Department. Be sure and add a Gift Note saying that the donation is intended for the "Madison Math Circle"! The money goes into the Mathematics Department Annual Fund and is routed through the University of Wisconsin Foundation, which is convenient for record-keeping, etc.

Alternately, you can bring a check to one of the Math Circle Meetings. If you write a check, be sure to make it payable to the "WFAA" and add the note "Math Circle Donation" on the check.

Or you can just pay in cash, and we'll give you a receipt.

Help us grow!

If you like Math Circle, please help us continue to grow! Students, parents, and teachers can help by:

  • Posting our flyer at schools or anywhere that might have interested students
  • Discussing the Math Circle with students, parents, teachers, administrators, and others
  • Making an announcement about Math Circle at PTO meetings
  • Donating to Math Circle

Contact the organizers if you have questions or your own ideas about how to help out.

Meetings for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018

Unless specified talks start at 6pm in room 3255 of Helen C. White Library, unless otherwise noted.

Fall 2017
Date Speaker Topic
September 18, 2017 Daniel Erman Welcome to the Madison Math Circle!
September 25, 2017 Betsy Stovall Math is a game!
October 2, 2017 Rachel Davis Thinking outside the box
October 9, 2017 Solly Parenti Hackenbush
October 16, 2017 Mihaela Ifrim Escape of the Clones!
October 23, 2017 Ryan Julian Recursion for Fun and Profit
October 30, 2017 John Wiltshire-Gordon Euler Characteristic
November 6, 2017 Wanlin Li How to Outsmart a State Test?
November 13, 2017 Jean-Luc Thiffeault Goldbug Variations
November 20, 2017 Ethan Beihl Boomerang Sequences
Spring 2018
Date Speaker Topic
January 29, 2018 Brandon Boggess [1]
February 5, 2018 Ben Wright [2]
February 12, 2018 [3]
February 19, 2018 [4]
February 26, 2018 [5]
March 5, 2018 Kit Newton [6]
March 12, 2018 [7]
March 19, 2018 No Meeting - (Spring Break)
March 26, 2018 No Meeting - (Spring Break)
April 2, 2018 [8]
April 9, 2018 [9]

Off-Site Meetings

We will hold some Math Circle meetings at local high schools on early release days. Our schedule for 2017-2018 has not yet been determined. If you are interesting in having us come to your high school, please contact us!

Fall 2017
Date Time Location Speaker Topic
October 2nd 2:45pm East High School - Madison, WI Moisés Herradón How to make it as a Hackenbush player in the planet Zubenelgenubi 4
November 2nd 9:30am Wisconsin Institute for Discovery - Madison, WI Alisha Zachariah

Fractals, Fractions and Fibonnaci.

November 2nd (Canceled) 11:00am Wisconsin Institute for Discovery - Madison, WI Zach Charles

1+1 = 10 or "How does my computer do anything?"

November 2nd 6:00pm Whitewater High School - Whitewater, WI Juliette Bruce

Doodling Daydreams

November 3rd 10:30am KM Global - Wales, WI Betsy Stovall

Recent discoveries in mathematics

November 27th 2:45pm JMM High School - Madison, WI Juliette Bruce

Is any knot not the unknot?

December 11th 2:45pm East High School - Madison, WI John Wiltshire-Gordon

What if seven is zero?

Spring 2018
Date Time Location Speaker Topic
Date TBD Location TBD Speaker TBD Topic TBD

Useful Resources

Annual Reports

2013-2014 Annual Report

Archived Abstracts

2016 - 2017 Math Circle Page

2016 - 2017 Abstracts

2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page

2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page (Spanish)

2015 - 2015 Abstracts

Archived Math Circle Material

Link for presenters (in progress)

Advice For Math Circle Presenters

Sample Lesson Plans

"Circle in a Box"