Madison Math Circle

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Weekly Meeting

Our weekly meeting is Monday at 6pm in 120 Ingraham Hall. See below for directions.

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 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.

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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:

Alright, I want to come!


Sign up for our email list:

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 Ingraham Hall room 120, on the UW-Madison campus).

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


If you have any questions, suggestions for topics, or so on, just email the organizers (Lalit Jain, Dan Erman, Gheorghe Craciun, and Philip Matchett Wood):

Math Circle Meetings for Spring 2014

All talks are at 6pm in Ingraham Hall room 120, unless otherwise noted.

Date and RSVP links Speaker Topic Link for more info
January 27, 2014 Matthew Johnston Cancelled for weather
February 3, 2014 Daniel Ross Encryption
February 10, 2014 Betsy Stovall Geometric addition
February 17, 2014 Mimansa Vahia Origami and Mathematics Origami video
February 24, 2014 Jon Kane Rows of Roses
March 3, 2014 Matthew Johnston Surprising results in games of chance
March 10, 2014 Jordan Ellenberg Why the card game Set should actually be called Line, and other comments on finite geometry Set
March 17, 2014 NO MEETING UW Spring Break
March 24, 2014 Reese Johnston The Mathematics of Lying
March 31, 2014 Reese Johnston The Mathematics of Lying, part 2
April 7, 2014 Shamgar Gurevich Symmetries of Platonic Solids Platonic solids
April 14, 2014 NO MEETING MMSD Spring Break
April 21, 2014 Chris Janjigian Pirates and prisoners: an introduction to game theory (with candy!)


Betsy Stovall

Geometric Addition

Abstract: We will learn some neat geometric tricks for quickly and painlessly computing some surprisingly large sums.

Jon Kane

Rows of Roses

Abstract: Let’s talk about the sine and cosine functions. One does not need to use very much information about these commonly seen functions in order to understand a large number of curves which can be drawn by graphing sine and cosine in Cartesian and polar coordinates. We will see sine curves, sums of sine curves, Lissajous figures, cycloids, hypocycloids, epicyclodes, and, of course, many rows of roses.

Archived Math Circle Material

Archived Math Circle Material