Madison Math Circle

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For the site in Spanish, visit Math Circle de Madison

COVID-19 Update

Due to COVID-19, all math circle events are canceled for Fall 2020.

We look forward to seeing you back in Spring 2021.

Join our email list to be notified of math circle events once we resume:

Math Circle Registration Form

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 usually have a weekly meeting, Monday at 6pm in 3255 Helen C White Library, during the school year. However, in Spring 2021, we will be meeting virtually on the first Monday of each month at 5pm. See the schedule and link below. 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).

Meetings for Spring 2021

All meetings this semester will be held on Zoom at the following link: Zoom Link

with the login password: 030731

Spring 2021
Date Speaker Topic
February 1, 2021 at 5-6pm Connor Simpson Pick's theorem

Pick's theorem relates the area of a polygon whose vertices lie on points of an evenly spaced grid to the number of grid points inside it. We'll do a sequence of examples to discover this theorem, outline a proof, and consider 3-dimensional analogues.

March 1, 2021 at 5-6pm Colin Crowley Fractals and Imaginary numbers

We'll explore some famous mathematical pictures such as the Mandelbrot set and Julius sets, which are examples of what are called fractals. In a quest to understand where these astonishing pictures come from, we will dip our toes into the world of imaginary numbers. While they are vastly complicated and beautiful, these come from simple equations.

April 5, 2021 at 5-6pm Aleksandra (Ola) Sobieska TBA
May 3, 2021 at 5-6pm Trevor Leslie TBA

Newsletters for Spring 2021

This semester, we sent out the following Newsletters. These contain announcements, a math video of the week, and some challenge problems to think about.

Directions and parking

During Spring 2021, all meetings will be held on Zoom at the following link: Zoom Link

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

Archived 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

Archived Math Circle Material

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"