Madison Math Circle

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For the site in Spanish, visit Math Circle de Madison

COVID-19 Update

We will moving back to in-person talks for the remainder of the semester.

As is the university's policy, all participants must wear masks. We will make every effort to maintain social distancing where possible.

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!

Our in person talks will be at, 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. 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).

Spring Enhancement Workshop

In addition to allowing students to explore various fields of math through our talks series, our Spring Enhancement Workshop helps them hone the various skills involved in higher mathematics. The workshop, titled the Math Circle Spring Enhancement Program Workshop (SEP) will be held from Feb. 27 through May 1, on alternate Mondays from 6:00pm - 7:00pm at the UW-Madison campus. Please see our schedule below for details.

The topics for this workshop will cover an introduction to constructing mathematical arguments and proofs, understanding how to generalise simple mathematical ideas, and learn how to discover math for one's self. We will build these skills through collaborative problem solving sessions while learning about graph theory, game theory, and other cool areas of mathematics.

We want to invite any middle school students curious about math to join! If you are interested, please register using the form below. As always, this workshop is free and only requires your curiosity and participation!

  Math Circle SEP Registration Form

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

We hope to see you there!

Spring Schedule

Spring Schedule (see abstracts below)
Date Location and Room Program Speaker
Feb 20th 3255 Helen C White Library Talks Uri Andrews
Feb 27th 3255 Helen C White Library SEP Math Circle Team
Mar 6th 3255 Helen C White Library Talks Yunting Zhang
Mar 13th 3255 Helen C White Library SPRING BREAK
Mar 20th 3255 Helen C White Library SEP Math Circle Team
Mar 27th 3255 Helen C White Library Talks Amy Tao
Apr 3rd 3255 Helen C White Library SEP Math Circle Team
Apr 10th 3255 Helen C White Library Talks Chenxi Wu
Apr 17th 3255 Helen C White Library SEP Math Circle Team
Apr 24th 3255 Helen C White Library Talks Yuxiao Fu
May 1st 3255 Helen C White Library SEP (Competition) Math Circle Team

Abstract 2/20

Uri Andrews
Title: How to split an apartment

So you go off to college and after a year or two, you and some of your friends decide to get an apartment together. It'll be a lot of fun living with your best friends. Then move-in day comes, and you realize that everyone wants the room by the kitchen (for easy late-night snacking). You have 4 rooms and 4 people. Surely there must be some way to make everybody happy. People are willing to settle for their second-favorite room instead if maybe they pay a little less rent or do some less chores. How do you navigate this issue to make everybody happy? I'll share a way to do this based on a mathematical theorem which also explains the following fact: If you stir up a cup of hot chocolate, when the liquid has come to rest, some point in the liquid will end up in exactly the same place in the cup as before you stirred it.

Abstract 3/6

Yunting Zhang
Title: Sequences and Induction

I will introduce the definitions of set and sequence, and give some special sequences (such as arithmetic sequences, geometric sequences and Fibonacci sequence) and compute the sum of the first n terms of these sequences. I will then introduce the application of the Fibonacci sequence (relation to the Golden Section and "coincidence" in nature). Finally, I'll talk about induction and using induction to prove that the previous summations were correct.

Abstract 3/27

Amy Tao
Title: Guess the number!

On Monday you will learn a fun number guessing game to psych your friends with. Then we'll talk about why it works and introduce a particular concept. We will then think about a couple of other problems, some of which are related and another of which looks related, but in fact is not. Here's a sampling: does every number have a (non-zero) multiple that is made of just 1's and 0's? How can you get away with fewer birthday candles?

Abstract 4/10

Chenxi Wu
Title: Almost periodic sequences

If an infinite sequence of letters is periodic, then any finite section of this sequence will reappear infinitely many times. However there are sequences with this property which is not periodic. I will show some examples of them and also how they appear in Euclidean geometry and graph theory.

Abstract 4/24

Yuxiao Fu
Title: On Propositional Logic

Logic is in some sense the art of thinking, for it captures the rules we rely on when we think. In this talk, I plan to provide an introduction to propositional logic, the perhaps most basic form of standard logic, and present some of its rich applications in mathematics and electrical engineering.

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. Please add your email in the form: Join Email List

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. 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 private donors. 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 make donations 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:

  • Like our Facebook Page and share our events with others!
  • 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.

Useful Resources

Fall 2022 Worksheets

Archived Abstracts

2021 - 2022 Abstracts

2020 - 2021 Abstracts

2019 - 2020 Abstracts

2016 - 2017 Math Circle Page

2016 - 2017 Abstracts

2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page

2015 - 2016 Math Circle Page (Spanish)

2015 - 2015 Abstracts

The way-back archives

Link for presenters (in progress)

Advice For Math Circle Presenters

Sample Talk Ideas/Problems from Tom Davis

Sample Talks from the National Association of Math Circles

"Circle in a Box"