The Berkeley Math Circle

Welcome to the Berkeley Math Circle

The Berkeley Math Circle (BMC) is a weekly program for over 500 San Francisco Bay Area elementary, middle and high school students. The weekly sessions are held on Tuesdays evenings at the UC Berkeley campus. The program is jointly sponsored by the: 

  • UC Berkeley Mathematics Department
  • UC Berkeley Statistics Department
  • UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department
  • Mathematical Science and Research Institute (MSRI)
  • Simons Institute for Theory of Computing
  • The Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (BAIR)
  • Vanguard Charitable, and
  • Parents' Contribution

BMCbeg2Editted.jpgEmulating famous Eastern European models, the program aims at drawing kids to mathematics, preparing them for mathematical contests, introducing them to the wonders of beautiful mathematical theories, and encouraging them to undertake future careers linked with mathematics, whether as mathematicians, mathematics educators, economists, or business entrepreneurs. Read more about the BMC.



  1. General Information

BMC Summer 2017 is scheduled for:

Time: Monday – Friday 9am-12pm

Date: June 19-30, 2017.

  1. Structure

  1. The Summer Program will be a mixture of the new adapted Bulgarian curriculum (as taught at the Thursday MTRW Program) and math circle sessions. The higher the level of the group is, the more math circle emphasis there will be. In the younger groups the emphasis will be on school math curriculum after a leading Eastern European model.
  1. BMC Summer is planned to have the usual groups:
  • Beginners (grades 6-7 in fall 2017)
  • Intermediate I (grades 7-8 in fall 2017)
  • Intermediate II (grades 8-10 in fall 2017)
  • Advanced (must qualify or by invitation only)
  1. Application process

To apply to the program, you MUST COMPLETE this two-step process

  1. Complete the online form:     BMC Summer 2017 Online Application Form
  2. Send us the payment
  • Early-bird fee of $400 for check and online form received on or before March 11, 2017
  • Regular fee of $450 for registration on and after March 12, 2017

Fee is payable ONLY BY CHECK written to:          United Math Circles Foundation

The check, then, can be mailed to:
        Berkeley Math Circle - Upper

        c/o Prof. Stankova, Evans Hall 970 

        Department of Mathematics

        University of California at Berkeley

        Berkeley, CA 94720-3840

or dropped off in person at UC Berkeley, Evans 713 in a sealed and addressed envelope, by sliding under the door.
 On the note section of the check, please, write:   the name of the student and the group you are signing up for. 

**** NOTE:  No checks will be deposited until a student is accepted into the program. Once a check is deposited, it is neither fully nor partially refundable. A deposited check cannot be exchanged for another student, cannot be rolled over to another program or used for any other purpose.

  1. The Selection Process

    1. We will admit qualified applicants on a first-come-first-serve basis.
    2. As usual, a placement test will be administered to applicants via a take-home exam in early June, in order to determine the level of the school math curriculum of each participant.

********The following students will be exempted from the placement test********

  • Any student who completes the Spring 2017 Program Math Taught the Right Way.
  • Any student who is currently in BMC-Advanced.
  • Any student who completed the full summer program 2016 in the Advanced group.
  1. Faculty

The faculty of the Summer Program will consist of Ph.D. Mathematicians and Mathematicians with advanced math education, who have great experience in teaching at both the MTRW and BMC Programs.

******** NOTES *******

  • The Summer Program will have daily HWs in each of the three classes. We expect that HWs will take from 1 to 3 hours each day, depending on the background of each student in the corresponding math subjects.
  • We strongly advise against signing up students at the Summer Program concurrently with other (academic) classes in the afternoon or evening during June 19-30: it will be too much for the students! Signing them up for some art or sports camp in the afternoon will be fine; but the best will be for the students to go home, have a hearty lunch, relax, and then do the Summer Program HW. This is enough for a daily schedule of an intense 10-day math program.

Berkeley Math Circle Applications for Fall 2017

I. Who can apply

       Students who will be in 5th to 12th grade in Fall of 2017.

II. The application process

1. When to apply

  • The application form will be posted on this website around the third week of April
  • It will be due by May 2, 2017, at the Berkeley Math Circle

2. Documentations

In addition to the online application form provided, new students for BMC-Upper will be asked to submit 

  • a hard copy of a math or science teacher's recommendation;
  • the latest school report card with the student's math grades, grades in English (writing, reading, comprehending), and behavior remarks.

3. Important Notes

  • None of these documents may be submitted electronically; we must receive hard copies of them by the deadline (not later!) at the math circle.
  • Please do NOT send us email inquiries about the application process. All necessary information will be posted with the application here around the third week of April.
  • Reserve emails only for emergencies, not convenience. Questions can be answered in office hours during the math circle (Tuesdays, 5:15-5:45pm; 6:15-7:45pm) in person at Evans 714. Please remember, emergencies are not caused by the lack of organization, preparation, or diligence.
  • Between 5:45-6:15pm: this is the time when we prepare the classrooms and the materials for the circle. This is our priority. We will not answer any administrative questions during this time frame.
  • At the circle, we direct most resources to the academic quality of the program. Therefore, we ask participants to be organized and respect our minimal admin staff's workload. When you have important questions, please invest the time and effort in coming to office to have them answered. Also, most questions can be answered through the information posted here on this website.

Berkeley Math Circle for Spring 2017

The Berkeley Math Circle (BMC) for Spring 2017 will start on Tuesday, January 17th.

BMC is divided into two divisions: BMC-Upper (grades 5th - 12th) and BMC-Elementary (grades 1st - 4th).


  • BMC Beginners Level I meets on Tuesdays from 5:00 to 6:20 PM at 344 Evans.
  • BMC Beginners Level II meets on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at 344 Evans.
  • BMC Intermediate Level I meets on Tuesdays from 6:10 to 7:55 PM at 340 Evans.
  • BMC Intermediate Level II meets on Tuesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at 740 Evans.
  • BMC Advanced meets on Tuesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at 736 Evans.

For questions regarding BMC-Upper, please contact BMC Assistant Harry Main-Luu.


Please visit BMC-Elementary page for information regarding BMC Elementary I (grades 1 and 2) and BMC Elementary II (grades 3 and 4).

For questions regarding BMC-Elementary, please contact BMC-Elementary director Laura Givental.

Math Taught the Right Way

A new Thursday program through the Berkeley Math Circle

The Thursday "Math Taught the Right Way" program will be based on the newly translated and adapted Bulgarian middle school textbooks, which were just used during the BMC summer 2016 program, and which were piloted at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito for 6th grade this past year, and will be continued for 6th and 7th grades in the upcoming academic year.

Please visit the MTRW page for more info.


Vinayak Kumar Earned Gold Medal at the WMTC

Vinayak returns to the Circle with a gold medal around his neck, placing 5th individually in the Advanced Division at the World Mathematics Team Championships. Congratulations, and welcome home!

BMC Alumnus Laura Pierson Continues to Reap Awards


Seasoned circler and alumnus, Laura Pierson, keeps going on her mathematical journey with great success. She placed in the top five at the Math Prize Contest in 2016 among all girls in the U.S., earning herself a gold medal. This year, in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, she has been named the Top 300 Scholar. Her talent also earns her a spot in the top 40 finalists to compete later in the year. We look forward to hearing good news while cheering for her on this journey.

Bio: Laura is currently a senior in high school and still connected to BMC. She coordinates the Monthly Contest and the awards. She has also given lectures at the Circle. Laura won the USAJMO in 2015 while she was in 10th grade, placing in top 12. In 7th grade, Laura, being the youngest member of the USA team, won a silver medal at the European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) in Luxembourg.

BMC Alumnus published his first Geometry textbook!

A familiar face at the Circle, Evan Chen, has recently published Euclidean Geometry in Math Olympiads through the Mathematical Association of America while still attending MIT. You can read more about his book here.

Bio: Evan won a gold medal in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) over the summer of 2014! He represented the Taiwanese team (which came in 3rd). Evan actually came in second at the USAMO earlier that year, the final round of the USA Olympiad. Evan finished his freshman year of college at Harvard and is now starting his sophomore year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Evan will be in contact with the BMC through his Monthly Contest problems.

Berkeley Math Circle student Evan Chen, also the coordinator for the Monthly Contest at BMC for the past three years, solved all six problems at USAMO (the last round of the USA Math Olympiad). He was placed #2 in the USA with 41 points and was among the top 3 winners awarded with Akami Foundation Scholarship! Even more astonishingly, he qualified at the same time on the Taiwanese team and participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad this summer in Cape Town, South Africa, from July 3-13 , 2014.


Evan Chen graduated from lrvington High School in Fremont, CA, this year and will attend Harvard College in the fall. Evan earned a Gold medal in the 2013 Asian-Pacific Math Olympiad, and will be participating on the Taiwan team at the 2014 lnternational Mathematical Olympiad (lMO). He enjoys programming, typesetting documents in LaTeX, and playing StarCraft on the nights before major contests. Evan applies his skill as a competitor in mathematical competitions to writing mathematical problems. Evan thanks his teachers, Miss Chiu and Mrs. Rothfuss, for their continual support and Dr. Zvezda Stankova, of the Berkeley Math Circle, for her invaluable mentorship. lt is noteworthy that Evan took this USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) in Taiwan from 12:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. while in Taiwan.

Espen writes a poem!

BMC student Espen has written a beautiful poem called "My True Number". We wanted to share as it is quite appropriate for the Berkeley Math Circle! Please do not take out the poem without copyright.

My True Number
By Espen Slettnes, Jan 6th, 2014 

My shadow and I stood in a complex plane. 
"What value are you?" I winked and asked. 
"3435i", said he, and he asked me mine. 
I said I was 33+44+33+55
"That's what I am, but times i"he replied. 
Our eyes met and danced 
as we added and multiplied and exponentiated and tertiated 
until we reached the magnitude of beauty, 
in the silence of ∞, where I saw my true self. 
I spoke no words but the simple language of the universe. 
I rose and vaporized into numbers, 
integrated with the Universe, 
and we became 1. 


  • The complex plane is a way to represent all complex numbers in 2 dimensions. A complex number is made up of a real and imaginary part.
  • i is the imaginary unit, defined as √ -1 
  • Tertiation is repeated exponentiation, which is repeated multiplication, which is repeated addition.
  • ∞ means infinity - larger than any number
  • (33+44+33+55) = 3435 (each digit raised to its own power)

Copyright © 2014 Espen Slettnes. All rights reserved.

Berkeley Math Circle featured on "The Monthly"!

The Berkeley Math Circle has been featured "The Monthly," East Bay's Premier Magazine of Culture and Commerce, titled "Proving Their Passion" by Sarah Weld. Check out the Berkeley Math Circle on the news here!

Nico Brown of the Berkeley Math Circle wins first place at the Berkeley Mini-Math Tournament!

Nico Brown wins 1st place at BmMT 2013.
Nico Brown wins 1st place at BmMT 2013.
Nico Brown and Vincent Pisani at BmMT 2013.
Nico Brown and Vincent Pisani at BmMT 2013.

BMC's own Nico Brown won the Berkeley mini Math Tournament (BmMT), the middle school student variant to the BMT for high school students, this past weekend.

Nico's score in the Individual round placed him into the top six students who entered the final Countdown elimination round, a series of timed questions... and he emerged the overall champion!

He wouldn't have got there without Team BMC coached by Intermediate Circle parent Tor Slettnes--Vincent Pisani, Arav Karighattam, Nate Fish, Espen Slettnes, and Nico--so congratulations to all!