Talking maths

25th July 2017

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A group of 28 promising young mathematicians, representing more than 15 European countries, have gathered at Wadham to talk maths for six weeks.

  • PROMYS Maths Summer School 2017

    PROMYS Europe Maths Summer School 2017

  • PROMYS Maths Summer School, 2017

They are taking part in PROMYS Europe, a six week residential maths programme designed to encourage mathematically ambitious students who are at least 16 to explore the creative world of mathematics. Participants tackle fundamental mathematical questions within a richly stimulating and supportive community of fellow first-year students, returning students, undergraduate counsellors, research mentors, faculty, and visiting mathematicians.

Wadham undergraduate Levi Borodenko (Mathematics and Statistics, 2016) was a student on the PROMYS Europe programme two years ago, and this year is supporting the students in his role as one of eight counsellors. “As well as marking the students’ work on the problem sets, we encourage and help the students, looking out for their well-being as well as helping them when mathematical problems need further explanation. As counsellors, we also have our own maths projects running simultaneously to the course – I’m studying Additive Number Theory – and help with the advanced course for returning students.” Levi is still finding enough challenges in the maths to keep him entertained: “Sometimes the students make very bold conjectures that are hard to prove – it is fascinating. Before I came to PROMYS Europe I only saw problems and used theorems to solve them. Now we care about the bigger picture and the theorems themselves,” he added.

Linda, 16 from Grenoble and Cindy, 17 from Paris got to know each other before the PROMYS Europe programme through a Mathematical Olympiad. Linda commented: “PROMYS Europe is different from what I am used to because it is more about trying to understand what is behind the methods that we are used to using for solving maths problems. I also like the autonomy that we have within the programme.” Cindy added that it was interesting to be on the programme with others from so many different countries: “We are such different people but we share the same interests,” she said.
PROMYS Europe is a partnership of Wadham College and the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, the Clay Mathematics Institute, and PROMYS (Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists, founded in Boston in 1989). The programme is dedicated to the principle that no one should be unable to attend for financial reasons. Most of the cost is covered by the partnership and by generous donations from supporters and alumni, to whom Wadham is extremely grateful.  Two UK participants are sponsored by the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research.

Commenting on the success of the programme, PROMYS Europe Board Member and Whitehead Lecturer in the Mathematical Institute , Vicky Neale said: "It’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with the students and counsellors at PROMYS Europe.  They’re so highly motivated, and it’s great to see them develop mathematically over the six weeks they’re here, as well as having opportunities to make friends with others and to feel part of the PROMYS Europe community.  This year we had over 200 applications from students wanting to attend for the first time - it was hard to select just 22 to come and join the returning students.”

Details of the 2018 PROMYS Europe programme will be available here from January 2018.

  • Counsellor Levi Borodenko (Mathematics and Statistics, 2016) (right) advises a summer school participant

  • Dr Vicky Neale (Whitehead Lecturer in the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford) explains Graph Theory

  • Cindy and Linda from France

  • Professor Glenn Stevens (left), Director, Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS), and Professor of Mathematics, Boston University

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