Madison Math Circle
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.
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 you 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:
- There is a parking garage in the basement of Helen C. White, with an hourly rate. Enter from Park Street.
- A 0.5 mile walk to Helen C. White Hall via these directions, many spots (free starting 4:30pm) in Lot 26 along Observatory Drive.
- A 0.3 mile walk to Helen C. White Hall via these directions, many spots (free starting 4:30pm) in Lot 34.
- A 0.3 mile walk to Helen C. White Hall via these directions, 2 metered spots (25 minute max) in front of Lathrop Hall.
- A 0.2 mile walk to Helen C. White Hall via these directions 6 metered spots (25 minute max) around the loop in front of Chadbourne Hall .
- For more information, see the UW-Madison Parking Info website.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the organizers
The Madison Math Circle is organized by a group of three professors and three 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:
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 2016 and Spring 2017
Unless specified talks start at 6pm in room 3255 of Helen C. White Library, unless otherwise noted.
|August 6, 2016
(Click Title for Time & Location.)
|Science Saturday||Game Busters|
|September 12, 2016||Jean-Luc Thiffeault||Why do my earbuds keep getting entangled?|
|September 19, 2016||DJ Bruce||Is Any Knot Not the Unkont?|
|September 26, 2016||Megan Maguire||Coloring Maps|
|October 3, 2016||Zach Charles||1 + 1 = 10, or How does my smartphone do anything?|
|October 10, 2016||Keith Rush||Randomness, determinism and approximation: a historical question|
|October 17, 2016||Phillip Matchett-Wood||The game of Criss-Cross|
|October 24, 2016||Ethan Biehl||A Chocolate Bar for Every Real Number|
|October 31, 2016||No Meeting||Enjoy Halloween!|
|November 7, 2016||Polly Yu||Are we there yet?|
|November 14, 2016||Micky Soule Steinberg||Circles and Triangles|
|November 21, 2016||Benedek Valko||Fun with hats|
|January 30, 2017||Daniel Erman||TBD|
|February 6, 2017||Cullen McDonald||TBD|
|February 13, 2017||Dima Arinkin||TBD|
|February 20, 2017||Reese Johnston||TBD|
|February 27, 2017||Jim Brunner||TBD|
|March 6, 2017||Becky Eastham||TBD|
|March 13, 2017||Jessica Lin||TBD|
|March 20, 2017||No Meeting - (UW Spring Break)|
|March 27, 2017||John Wiltshire-Gordon||TBD|
|April 3, 2017||Will Mitchell||TBD|
High School Meetings
We are experimenting with holding some Math Circle meetings directly at local high schools. Our schedule for the fall is below. If you are interesting in having us come to your high school, please contact us!
|Date||Location||Speaker||Topic||Link for more info|
|October 17, 2016||2:45pm JMM||Daniel Erman||What does math research look like?|
|October 24, 2016||2:45pm West High||DJ Bruce||Shhh, This Message Is Secret|
|October 31, 2016||2:45pm East High||DJ Bruce||Shhh, This Message Is Secret|
|December 5, 2016||2:45pm East High||Uri Andrews||How to split an apartment|
|December 5, 2016||2:45pm JMM||Phillip Matchett Wood||The game of Criss-Cross|
|December 12, 2016||2:45pm West High||TBD||TBD|
|Date||Location||Speaker||Topic||Link for more info|
|February 13, 2017||2:45pm East High||TBD||TBD|
|February 20, 2017||2:45pm JMM||TBD||TBD|
|April 3rd, 2017||2:45pm JMM||TBD||TBD|
2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page (Spanish)
Link for presenters (in progress)
Advice For Math Circle Presenters