Madison Math Circle

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What is it?

The UW-Madison math department organizes a series of talks aimed at interested middle school and high school students throughout the semester. Our goal is to present fun talks that give students a taste of interesting ideas in math and science. In the past we've had talks about plasma and weather in outer space, the way images are shaded in video games, and how credit card numbers are securely transmitted over the internet.

For more information about Math Circles see

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 recently featured in Wisconsin State Journal:

Alright, I want to come!

Great! 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 (and tell us how many people are coming so we can purchase the appropriate amount of pizza!)

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 Van Vleck Hall room B223, on the UW-Madison campus). We'd also appreciate if you email us the dates that your group will be attending.

Parking on campus is free at most (but not all) outdoor parking lots after 4:30pm. Parking lots #25 (Elizabeth Waters) and #26 (Observatory Hill) may be the most convenient. These parking lots are on Observatory Drive just west of the intersection with Charter Street. If you park there, then walk east along Observatory Drive to the top of Bascom Hill, then turn right to Van Vleck Hall. See also the map at


If you have any questions, suggestions for topics, or so on, just email the organizers (Ed Dewey, David Dynerman, Nathan Clement, Lalit Jain, Kevin Zamzow, and Gheorghe Craciun):

Talks this semester, Fall 2012

More details about each talk to follow soon. All talks are at 6pm in Van Vleck Hall, room B223, unless otherwise noted.

Date Speaker Talk (click for more info)
October 1, 2012 Richard Askey TBA
October 8, 2012 TBA TBA
October 22, 2012 Saverio Spagnolie Random walks: how gamblers lose and microbes diffuse
October 29, 2012 Beth Skubak non-Euclidean geometry
November 5, 2012 Mihai Stoiciu Rubik's Cubes
More TBA

Random walks: how gamblers lose and microbes diffuse

October 22nd, 2012, 6pm, Van Vleck Hall room B223, UW-Madison campus

Presenter: Saverio Spagnolie. We will explore one of the most famous mathematical models of random activity, the random walk. After an introduction to some basic ideas from probability, we will see that the same mathematical tools can be used to study completely different types of problems. In particular, we will find that there are no gambling strategies that can be used to beat the casino, and that tiny microorganisms can't stop moving even if they want to!

Non-Euclidean geometry

October 29th, 2012, 6pm, Van Vleck Hall room B223, UW-Madison campus

Presenter: Beth Skubak. Non-Euclidean geometry.

Rubik's Cubes

November 5th, 2012, 6pm, Van Vleck Hall room B223, UW-Madison campus

Presenter: Mihai Stoiciu. Rubik's Cubes. Some people describe mathematics as the science of patterns. We will explore patterns, permutations, orientations, and counting with the famous Rubik's Cube.

Archived Math Circle Material