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 Wednesday evenings at the UC Berkeley campus. The program is jointly sponsored by the: 

  • UC Berkeley Mathematics Department
  • UC Berkeley Economics Department
  • UC Berkeley HAAS School Of Business
  • 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-Upper Spring 2024 Applications now live! Click here for the application.
BMC-Upper Summer 2023 Applications now closed!
MTRW Fall 2023 Applications now live! Click here for the application.
MTRW Spring 2023

Applications now closed!

BMC-Elementary (Grades 1-4) For more information, please click either on the link for BMC-Elementary directly to the left in the table, or in the BMC Elementary tab on the side tab 

BMC-Upper Spring 2024 Application Now Live!

BMC-Upper Spring 2024 Program information

  • Program Dates: January 24, 2024 - May 1, 2024

  • Joint colloquium for all BMC-Upper groups, location and time TBD

  • Time: Wednesday evenings (exact times for each BMC-Upper group level are listed in the application)

  • Location: Please read below

At the moment of posting this application, BMC-Upper sessions during Spring 2024 are planned to be held in-person, online, or hybrid. Depending on the developing health situation and decisions that UCB campus makes for in-person classes as well as release of rooms for the math circle sessions (if any), the group modes are subject to change. Everyone needs to be prepared to go ONLINE in case conditions change.

For Spring 2024, we tentatively plan for:

• ONLINE mode for Beginners I and Advanced groups, with some possibility for HYBRID zoom/in-person sessions for the Advanced group (to be decided when sessions start).
• IN-PERSON mode for Beginners II, Intermediate I, and Intermediate II groups on UCB campus.

In-person sessions for Beg II, Int I, and Int II may happen at the beginning of the semester or anytime during the semester or it may not happen at all and the sessions may stay online for the whole semester; it may happen only for some BMC-Upper groups or for all Beginners II, Intermediate I, and Intermediate II groups. Students signing up for Beginners II, Intermediate I, Intermediate II must commit to attending BMC-Upper in Spring 2024 both online AND in-person sessions, regardless of when a move to in-person sessions may happen for some or all of these BMC-Upper groups. Keep in mind that, if a move to in-person classes happens for some BMC-Upper groups but not for others, siblings may be split between attending on campus and attending online at the same time. No refunds will be provided to families, regardless of changed personal circumstances or if sessions move between online and in-person modes.


Online sessions will be recorded, whenever feasible and agreeable with the instructor, and posted for viewing to BMC families. In-person classes will NOT be recorded.


Application link

Application for BMC-Upper Spring 2024

The Application for BMC-Upper Spring 2024 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 Spring 2024 program. 


  • Applications submitted after Dec 6 are not guaranteed entry into the program (and most likely, we will have closed enrollment for continuing students by Dec 6).

  • If we admit any continuing student who submitted an application after Dec 6, there will be an extra $25 of processing fee by Dec 13, $50 extra on or after Dec 14, and $100 extra on or after Jan 1, 2024.

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. For new applicants, we will make the decisions after the due date.


Do NOT submit the form through your phone, as the lack of options on the phone makes it hard to properly fill the form, and then we often receive incomplete or multiple applications for the same student.  In addition, some applicants write on their phones (or tablets) their names or other information without any caps or in all caps; such information is NOT edited and it propagates as such into all program rosters and other documentation. Thus, everyone needs to take the application process seriously, write all information correctly, and submit applications through laptops or desktops whenever available.


Application information for Continuing students

"Continuing students" includes everyone who is currently enrolled in BMC-Upper Fall 2023: Beginners I, Beginners II, Intermediate I, Intermediate II, and Advanced. 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: Dec 6, 2023

  • The fee for BMC-Upper Spring 2024 is $270 (this includes PayPal fee).

  • Applications submitted after Dec 6 are not guaranteed entry into the program (and most likely, we will have closed enrollment for continuing students by Dec 6). 

  • If we admit any continuing student who submitted an application after Dec 6, there will be an extra $25 of processing fee by Dec 13, $50 extra on or after Dec 14, and $100 extra on or after Jan 1, 2024.

  • 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-served basis for continuing applicants. 


Application information for New students


New students include any student who is currently enrolled in BMC Elementary or any student who is NOT currently enrolled in BMC-Upper Fall 2023. 


New student application due date: Dec 13, 2023

  • The fee for BMC-Upper Spring 2024 is $270 (this includes PayPal fee).

  • Applications submitted after Dec 13 are not guaranteed entry into the program (and most likely, we will have closed enrollment for new students by Dec 13). 

  • If we admit any continuing student who submitted an application after Dec 13, there will be an extra $25 of processing fee by Dec 20, $50 extra on or after Dec 21, and $100 extra on or after Jan 1, 2024.

  • 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 served basis for continuing applicants. 

The following documents will be required for new students. New students 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.


CONTINUING students applying for a higher group placement MAY strengthen their application by submitting these two documents, or MAY elect to skip one or both steps.


  • 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 will be considered.

  • 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.


MTRW Fall 2023 Application Information


MTRW Fall 2023 Program information

Fall 2023 Dates:

  • First day of class: August 21, 2023

  • Last day of class: December 4, 2023

We will have 15 Mondays of class, all from 5-8pm. Note that MTRW will not be meeting on November 20th, the week of Thanksgiving.


Projected modes for Fall 2023

We will only be offering HYBRID mode for enrollment (with the exception of a possible remote cohort, discussed below).  This means all families should be prepared for both possibilities: online sessions and in-person sessions.  

As of early May, we anticipate that MTRW sessions in the Fall 2023 semester will be held IN-PERSON, possibly with occasional online sessions as needed.  This plan is contingent on compliance with local and campus health guidelines.  The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is of utmost importance, and there is a chance that MTRW classes may have to return to remote status at some point.  Local and campus health guidelines will be considered before making such a call.  

If there is sufficient demand, we may offer two cohorts for one of the levels -- one expected to meet on campus (with a switch to remote status only if needed for health and safety reasons), and one that will meet exclusively online for the entire semester.

Families must commit to attending online AND in-person sessions of MTRW in Fall 2023, regardless of when/whether a change of mode may occur. It is possible, but unlikely, that a move to remote classes is necessary for some MTRW groups but not for others, in which case siblings may be split between attending on campus and attending online at the same time. 

Once enrolled students have paid their enrollment fees, no refunds will be provided to families, regardless of changed personal circumstances or if sessions move between in-person and online modes.


Application link

Application for MTRW Fall 2023

The application for MTRW Fall 2023 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 program. 

Priority Application deadline: Monday, May 22, 2023

Applications submitted after this date will only be considered if space remains after processing those received by the deadline.  Admission into the program is not guaranteed, even for continuing students who submit by the deadline.

In the event that there is still space available, there will be an additional $25/student late processing fee for students who apply June 1, 2023 or later.


6A/7A/8A/9A: $795

9A Proofs-only Subgroup: $265

Early application submissions are preferred. This allows us to begin reviewing applications and to make decisions promptly. 

We highly recommend that you do NOT submit the form through your phone, as the lack of options on the phone make it hard to properly fill the form, and we often receive multiple applications for the same student if submitted on the phone.


Application Process

Applications will be reviewed later this month, but we often have enough applicants to fill all levels 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 may not have space for all MTRW Spring 2023 students to continue in the program. Priority will be given to those who have shown dedication to and growth in MTRW. We also expect to accept some strong new students.

The enrollment fees for the 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. 

In the event that there is still space available, there will be an additional $25/student late processing fee for students who apply June 1, 2023 or later.

Enrollment for MTRW Fall 2023 will be finalized as soon as the groups reach capacity. 

MTRW staff will be primarily on summer break from mid-June until mid-August.

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 August and you can ask us or other families in person.


BMC-Upper Fall 2023 Colloquium Details

As in past semesters, BMC-Upper will hold an end-of-semester colloquium, featuring an awards ceremony for the Monthly Contest winners and a mathematical talk by Paul Zeitz. Details are as follows:

  • Speaker: Paul Zeitz
  • Topic: A Revamp of the Second Meanest Math Question in the 20th Century
  • Abstract: In 1999, a couple of mean-spirited math contest creators came up with a problem designed to trip up everyone.  But it has a really fun solution that combines geometry, probability, combinatorics, and science fiction.
  • Location: Dwinelle 155, UCB campus
  • Date: Sunday, Dec 10
  • Bio: Paul Zeitz has been involved with the Berkeley Math Circle since its first days. He has devoted his career to mathematical outreach at all levels, from elementary schools to IMO teams. He was a professor at the University of San Francisco for 30 years, and now has more time to hike with his wife and dog when he is not doing math.
  • Doors will open around 4PM.
  • Colloquium talk starts at 4:30PM.
  • Q&A and Monthly Contest Awards: 5:30PM-6PM
    • Note: we will not be distributing MC prizes later. So, if you will be missing the event, you should ask a friend to collect your award at the event.
    • No recording will be available.

The BMC-Upper Spring 2023 Colloquium

On Sunday, May 7th, BMC-Upper brought another excellent semester to a close with its Spring 2023 colloquium featuring a talk from Espen Slettnes, an accomplished research and contest mathematician and long-time friend of the Math Circle. Espen imparted wisdom gained from his substantial experience with math contests, including a walk-through of a problem of his own design. After his talk, we held an awards ceremony for all Spring 2023 Monthly Contest winners, with prizes hand-picked by Espen. With Espen now off to MIT, we were lucky to have him as a speaker, and the event was a resounding success!

The BMC-Upper Fall 2022 Colloquium is a success!

This past Sunday, December 11th, BMC-Upper held its Fall 2022 colloquium with a talk from distinguished speaker Professor Michael Hutchings on the mathematics of Rubik's cubes. Afterwards, BMC held a live awards ceremony for all Fall 2022 Monthly Contest Winners. With close to 400 attendees, the colloquium was an exciting and educational event, and was nothing short of a success!

Espen Slettnes receives a Gold Award at the 2022 United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO)!

Congratulations to Espen, our very own math circler! Espen is among the top 19 problem solvers in the country, distinguishing himself in a field of 300,000 students in the American Mathematics Competitions and approximately 337 finalists who went on to take the USAMO.


Podcast with BMC director, Zvezda Stankova, in Numberphile!

Check out Numberphile's latest podcast with BMC director Zvezda Stankova below, detailing her journey through mathematics and more!
by Brady Haran, Numberphile

Interview with BMC director, Zvezda Stankova, in Berkeley Science Review

If you are interested in learning more about the history and background information of the BMC/MTRW program, we direct you to read a recently published interview in the Berkeley Science Review:
by Amanda Glazer, in STEMinism in the Spotlight
Berkeley Science Review

Espen Slettnes publishes paper in Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications!

Check out Espen's paper, "Minimal Embedding Dimensions of Rectangle k-Visibility Graphs," published in 2021's first issue of the Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications!

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!

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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!