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 Fall 2020 The BMC-Upper Fall 2020 application is now CLOSED.
MTRW Fall 2020 The Fall 2020 application is now live. Please read below.


MTRW Fall 2020 application now live!


Our 6A, 7A and 8A groups are now CLOSED; the 9A group is almost full. The application process is still continuing but we expect that we will complete it soon. If your student has not applied yet, this is a fair warning to apply right away. 

  • We have started contacting and rescinding acceptances to the few families who did not submit their payment to PayPal for MTRW Fall 2020 within 48 hours of receiving their acceptance offer, and we have started offering their spots to other students who have applied. To the families who did not pay within 48 hours of acceptance: if we come back to re-offer you again a spot, it will not be at the Early Bird price but at the regular price, regardless of whether the date is before or after June 15th. 
  • If you are among the few families who were accepted but haven't submitted their payment through PayPal, please submit your payment to PayPal right away before 48 hours has elapsed from the time your student received their acceptance offer. Explanations that you did not receive the offer because you were away from your email and so on will not be accepted.
  • We aim to accept only the families who are most committed to MTRW and who consider it first priority over other activities and subjects. And due to the high demand for MTRW F20, we are very selective.
    • We have declined acceptance to students who did not engage in and did not show academic improvement during the MTRW Spring 2020 semester. 
    • We have put some students on probation for MTRW Fall 2020 if they did not do well on one or two of their classes in MTRW Spring 2020 and/or in previous semesters.
  • We have not yet communicated with all families who have applied. If you are among those families, please be patient.
  • Do NOT send us inquiries about your student's placement and and ask if they are accepted. No routine or non-emergency emails to our staff are allowed. If there is any new information, it will be sent, as much as feasible, to all families at the same time.

The Fall 2020 MTRW application link can be found here.

(Please continue reading. Below, there is important information regarding the application process.)

Program dates

Date: August 24, 2020 - December 7, 2020 (No class on September 7 due to Labor Day)
Time: Monday evenings  
Location: UC Berkeley campus

We have been holding Spring 2020 MTRW sessions online during the closure of UCB campus. MTRW sessions in the Fall 2020 will be held on campus for as long as UCB campus is open and allows for in-person classes. When UCB campus is closed and does not allow in-person classes, we will hold the MTRW sessions online via Zoom. Sessions will be recorded, whenever feasible and agreeable with the instructor, and posted for viewing to MTRW families. 

The application for Fall 2020 will be completed entirely online. A link to an online payment form will be provided in students' MTRW Fall 2020 acceptance email.

Important note for BMC-Upper families who are considering also applying to MTRW

  • Acceptance to MTRW Fall 2020 will be very competitive and even current MTRW students are not guaranteed acceptance in Fall 2020. Thus, students need to act fast when the portal opens, and complete the online application.
  • If your student(s) were accepted to BMC-Upper in Beginners I, II, or Int I groups in Fall 2020, they will be given last priority during the application process for 6A, 7A, 8A groups of MTRW, as we are directing students to attend one or the other program, but not both. Students may apply to any MTRW group, but be aware of this restriction.
  • If your student(s) were accepted in BMC-Upper Int II or Advanced groups in Fall 2020 and apply to 9A group of MTRW Fall 2020, you can attend both programs, as long as there is space when you apply.

Program details

  • Math Taught The Right Way is a math program of the Berkeley Math Circle for middle and high school students at UC Berkeley, held for 3 hours 5-8 pm on Mondays throughout the academic year. The program is intellectually demanding, testing and encourages the mental development of students in a content-rich and challenging environment of algebra, geometry, and problem-solving. MTRW does NOT conform to generic U.S. labels of math classes (e.g., Algebra 1, Algebra 2, etc.). By the end of 9th grade the MTRW will have surpassed the regular U.S. math curriculum by a lot, not just in breadth but more importantly in depth. Learning to "read and write mathematics" is a skill that is emphasized at MTRW as the basis for communicating mathematics.
  • The instructors at the MTRW have Ph.D., M.A., BA's in math or other related degrees in science and are distinguished teachers at the Berkeley Math Circle, universities and elite middle and high schools. The MTRW program has homework every week in each of the three subjects. Homework assignments are graded and returned the following week. There are final exams in each subject. Report cards are generated each semester with % of completed regular and bonus work, as well as statistics of the corresponding classes and a list of top performers and winners in various categories.
  • Similar to BMC-Upper, MTRW sessions in Fall 2020 will be held on campus when and for as long as UCB campus is open and allows for in-person classes. If the UCB campus is closed and/or does not allow in-person classes, we will hold the MTRW sessions online via Zoom, similar to what you all have already experienced the second half of this semester; in such a case, sessions will be recorded, whenever feasible and agreeable with the instructor, and posted for viewing to MTRW families.

The Fall 2020 MTRW application link can be found here.

Application process

  • The application process will likely be completed within just a few days of opening this application portal. The selection process will be based on a timely and complete application and submitted payment through PayPal and on high academic qualifications. We will NOT be able to continue all MTRW Spring 2020 students; for those who wish to continue in the Fall, we will select only those who have shown improved performance and dedication to the program.
  • Unlike previous semesters where the enrollment fees were paid using only checks, the enrollment fees for the Fall 2020 program will be paid AFTER the student is accepted and will be done so via PayPal. After the student is accepted, families will have 48 hours to submit the enrollment fees or risk their student being put on the waitlist for the program. As a note, the prices have increased from last semester due to fees related to the program’s new payment system (PayPal) and to measurements to comply with the new California Employment Law. However, there are still early-bird deadline fees by June 15 and the regular fees on or after June 16.
  • Enrollment for MTRW Fall 2020 will be finalized as soon as the groups reach capacity, which has historically happened within a few days. You must NOT contact BMC/MTRW staff with routine or non-emergency questions at any time: we do NOT reply to such email inquiries as we do NOT have the resources to answer questions from many hundreds of families on email. Instead, wait until the BMC and MTRW restart in the fall and you can ask us or other families in person.


BMC-Upper Fall 2020 application now closed

The BMC-Upper Fall 2020 application is CLOSED.

BMC-Upper Fall 2020

  • Date: September 2, 2020 - December 9, 2020
  • Time: Wednesday evenings  
  • Location: UC Berkeley campus

BMC sessions in the Fall 2020 will be held on campus for as long as UCB campus is open and allows for in-person classes. When UCB campus is closed and does not allow in-person classes, we will hold the BMC sessions online via Zoom. Sessions will be recorded, whenever feasible and agreeable with the instructor, and posted for viewing to BMC families. 


BMC-Upper Summer 2020 application now CLOSED

    The BMC-Upper Summer 2020 application is CLOSED.

    BMC Summer Program

    • Date: June 15- June 26, 2020, Monday-Friday
    • Time: 9:00am-12:00pm
    • Location: Online
    • Description: The BMC Summer Program is an intensive two-week math program where students will participate for three hours a day in math sessions and also have daily homework for practice. Enrolling in another summer camp at the same time as the BMC Summer Program is strongly discouraged, as students will NOT have enough time to absorb the material from the three math classes and write their three daily HWs, and hence will lag behind their classmates. Some families did not take this seriously and enrolled their children in afternoon camps or afternoon/evening classes elsewhere, and found out within a couple of days that the child had to drop the other program in order to keep up with the BMC program. The BMC Summer Program is a hybrid between the Berkeley Math Circle and the Math Taught the Right Way programs (in each Beginners, Intermediate I, and Intermediate II group). The Advanced group over the summer will enjoy an intensive Berkeley Math Circle experience. 



    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!

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    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:

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    Alumnus Evan O'Dorney continues success after BMC!

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    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!


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    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!

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    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!