The Berkeley Math Circle

Welcome to the Berkeley Math Circle

The United Math Circles Foundation is an official umbrella organization for the Berkeley Math Circle.  The United Math Circles Foundation is a non-profit organization.

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 Economics 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


Emulating 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.


Application Dates to Watch For:

BMC Spring 2021 Application is now available. Please read below
MTRW Spring 2021

Application is now CLOSED, except for advanced 9-10th graders

BMC Summer 2021 Applications will become available mid-January, or earlier.



Date: January 20, 2021 - May 5, 2021
Time: Wednesday evenings  
Location: Online

We have been holding BMC sessions in Fall 2020 online during the closure of UCB campus. BMC sessions in the Spring 2021 will also be held online, unless UCB campus allows for in-person classes, and it is feasible to move the math circles sessions back to campus. Online sessions will be recorded, whenever feasible and agreeable with the instructor, and posted for viewing to BMC families. 

The application for Spring 2021 for both continuing and new applicants will be completed entirely online. A link to an online payment form will be sent to families once your student has been accepted into the BMC-Upper Fall 2020 program. 

Please read the application instructions below carefully before starting the application.

The Spring 2021 BMC-Upper application link can be found here. 

Fee for BMC-Upper Spring 2021: $220 

Continuing students

Continuing students includes everyone who is currently enrolled in BMC-Upper Fall 2020: Beginners I, II, Intermediate I, II, and Advanced (Students enrolled in MTRW or BMC-Elementary for Fall 2020 are NOT continuing students). For students who would like to apply to move up to a higher BMC-Upper group level, the optional higher group placement application is included in the application link provided above.

Continuing student application due date: December 2, 2020

  • Applications submitted after December 2 are not guaranteed entry into the program (and most likely, we will have closed enrollment for continuing students by December 2). If we admit any continuing student who submitted an application after December 2, there will be an extra $25 of processing fee.
  • Early application submissions are preferred. This allows us to begin reviewing applications and to make decisions promptly. Decisions will be made on an on-going first-come-first serve basis for continuing applicants. 

New students

New students include any student who is currently enrolled in BMC-Upper Elementary or NOT currently enrolled in BMC-Upper Spring 2020. 

New student application due date: December 9, 2020

  • Early application submissions are preferred. This allows us to begin reviewing applications promptly. For new applicants, we will make enrollment decisions after the due date of December 9th.

  • Applications submitted after December 9 will incur an extra $25 of processing fee (in case the student is accepted).

The following documents will be required for new students. New applicants will upload these documents to the application link provided above when prompted to do so. Please acquire these additional documents prior to filling out the application form to prevent unsaved question responses and needing to re-complete the application.

  • Letter of recommendation from a math teacher: The letter from the math teacher must address the mathematics knowledge, performance and potential of the students. The letter can be in the form of an email, which can be saved then uploaded. The letter can also be a previous recommendation letter that addresses students' math skills. If such a letter is not available, but the student has won math competitions and/or participated in prestigious math/science programs before, a substitution document addressing such achievements may be considered.
    • If a teacher, as per school policy, must send the recommendation letter directly to BMC-Upper staff, please email the letter directly to Ryan Quan (ryanquan at berkeley dot edu)
  • The latest school report card must show, among other things, grades in mathematics, in science, and in English (reading/writing), as well as behavior grade/description. If such a report card is not available from the spring semester, the latest fall semester report card may be submitted.

Financial aid

  • If your family was awarded Financial Aid for the BMC school year 2020-2021, this happened back in May 2020. You must still apply by the deadline of December 2 as a continuing student by sending an email to Selena Ding to remind us that you are continuing in the spring and that you would like to apply your Financial Aid towards the BMC-Upper Spring 2021 semester.
  • There is no Financial Aid for new student mid-year applications.



Our 6B, 7B and 8B groups are CLOSED.

A few spots remain in our 9B group (Algebra/Geometry/Proofs) and subgroup (Proofs). We will consider only strong students who are in 9th grade or above, or have passed MTRW 9A. If this describes your qualifications, please write a short paragraph to our MTRW assistant, Meg, (margaretcbraun at berkeley dot edu) describing your math background and reason(s) why you would like to attend the MTRW 9B programs.

Spring 2021

  • Time: Monday evenings, 5-8pm Pacific time  
  • Location: MTRW sessions in Spring 2021 will be held online due to the current campus closure for health and safety reasons. 
  • Dates:        
    • First day of class: January 18, 2021       
    • No class: March 22, 2021 (UCB Spring Break)
    • Last day of class: May 3, 2021     

In total, there are 15 class meetings.  Note that classes DO meet on Martin Luther King Day (January 18) and Presidents' Day (February 15).

Sessions will be recorded, whenever feasible and agreeable with the instructor, and shared with enrolled MTRW students who must miss class due to extenuating circumstances.



Espen Slettnes receives honorable at the 2020 United States Online Mathematical Olympiad (USOMO)!

The USAMO test is given to the top combined scorers on the AMC12 and AIME. Our very own math circler, Espen Slettnes, has distinguished himself among the 2020 USOMO participants! 


Hanna Hantao Chen Achieves at Math Prize for Girls!

Math Prize for Girls is the world’s largest math prize for young women high school age or younger.  Hanna tied for 16th out of 300 girls, got an Honorable Mention, and was invited to the next round of competition!
Congratulations, Hanna!

Screenshot 2019-11-01 at 1.54.18 PM.png



Harry Main-Luu, previous assistant for MTRW and BMC-Upper, was named one of the 4 UC Berkeley University Medal runners-up! 

"Every year, the competition for the University Medal – the award given each year to the graduating senior who best embodies the highest ideals of UC Berkeley – is fierce. Candidates for the medal, which was established in 1871, must have overcome significant challenges, had an impact on the lives of others and carry a GPA of 3.96 or higher." 

Read Harry's profile below:

Screenshot 2019-08-03 at 11.03.48 AM.png


Alumnus Evan O'Dorney continues success after BMC!

Screenshot 2019-08-20 at 8.09.29 AM.png

He finished the Mathematical Tripos in Cambridge and is now a Ph.D. student at Princeton under Manjul Bhargava. He was called on to write the music for a film advertising the Churchill Scholarship, by which he went to Cambridge. To read more about Evan and his time at the Berkeley Math Circle, visit the Program page


Congratulations to Justin Lee for being a winner of the 10th United States of America Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO)!

The USAJMO test is given to the top combined scorers on the AMC 10 and AIME. Justin distinguished himself among 300,000 students who also participated in the American Mathematics Competitions.



Espen Slettnes Wins First Place at 2018 Broadcom MASTERS and Receives Minor Planet named after him!

Our very own seasoned math circler Espen continues to reap awards.  Among more than 900 winners from regional science fairs in California, he went on to win both the 1st prize in Mathematical Science as well as Project of the Year Award across all categories in the junior division at the 2018 California Science and Engineering Fair.

In other math-related fields, he received a bronze medal at 2018 USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO).  He is also competing in the Gold division of the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO), having easily aced the Bronze and Silver divisions last year.

He has also been accepted as one of 45 pre-college students worldwide to form the inaugural cohort of World Science Scholars, a new initiative to nurture the next generation science researchers, led by Professor Brian Greene of Columbia University.  The scholars will explore a broad range of new disciplines expanded from mathematics. The video above includes footage from MAA MathFest 2018 in Denver earlier this month; near the end, Espen is talking to Dr. Michael Pearson, executive director of MAA. 

More recently, Espen won first place (out of 80,000 middle school students who competed) at 2018 Broadcom MASTERS! This competition is the premier science and engineering competition for middle school students and is a national science fair organized by The Society for Science and Public. He was also selected out of a gifted, national applicant pool to be named as a Caroline D. Bradley Scholar. He will receive a merit-based scholarship for high school.

MIT Lincoln Laboratory also just named a minor planet after Espen to recognize his achievements. His name will be added to the Minor Planet Center database (run out of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Massachusetts). Look out for Minor Planet 34379 Slettnes in the sky!

Congratulations, Espen!

DSC_0442 2.jpeg

Espen at the 2018 Broadcom MASTERS competition in Washington, D.C. 


Zach and Ave Golden awarded at the World Mathematics Team Championship


Zach (in black shirt) and Ave (in black cardigan), seasoned circlers, return to BMC with Bronze Award (for Zach) and Merit Award (for Ave), in the individual rounds at the World Mathematics Team Championship, held in Thailand in November 2017. Congratulations to this brother-sister team and thank you for continuing to reinforce the BMC name on the map. Welcome home!


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 Evan Chen Continues His Passion for Math!

ec (1).jpg

Evan Chen is a PhD student in math at MIT. He is one of the coaches of the USA IMO team, serving as the assistant academic director at the American summer training program (MOP), the editor-in-chief of the USA national math olympiad (USAMO), and the coordinator for the USA IMO team selection. Evan is also the author of a popular textbook Euclidean Geometry in Math Olympiads used by students preparing for mathematical olympiads. As a high school student, Evan was himself an IMO gold medalist and winner of the 2014 USAMO (which he took from 12:30am to 5am in Taiwan). Outside of math and teaching, Evan enjoys StarCraft and Korean pop dance.


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!