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A Decade of the Berkeley Math Circle: The American Experience, Volume I
Edited by: Zvezdelina Stankova, Mills College, Oakland, CA, and University of California, Berkeley, CA, and Tom Rike, Oakland High School, CA
A co-publication of the AMS and Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.
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MSRI Mathematical Circles Library
2008; 326 pp; softcover
Volume: 1
ISBN-10: 0-8218-4683-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-4683-4
List Price: US$25
Institutional Members: US$20
All Individuals: US$18.75
Order Code: MCL/1
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Many mathematicians have been drawn to mathematics through their experience with math circles: extracurricular programs exposing teenage students to advanced mathematical topics and a myriad of problem solving techniques and inspiring in them a lifelong love for mathematics. Founded in 1998, the Berkeley Math Circle (BMC) is a pioneering model of a U.S. math circle, aspiring to prepare our best young minds for their future roles as mathematics leaders. Over the last decade, 50 instructors--from university professors to high school teachers to business tycoons--have shared their passion for mathematics by delivering more than 320 BMC sessions full of mathematical challenges and wonders.

Based on a dozen of these sessions, this book encompasses a wide variety of enticing mathematical topics: from inversion in the plane to circle geometry; from combinatorics to Rubik's cube and abstract algebra; from number theory to mass point theory; from complex numbers to game theory via invariants and monovariants. The treatments of these subjects encompass every significant method of proof and emphasize ways of thinking and reasoning via 100 problem solving techniques. Also featured are 300 problems, ranging from beginner to intermediate level, with occasional peaks of advanced problems and even some open questions.

The book presents possible paths to studying mathematics and inevitably falling in love with it, via teaching two important skills: thinking creatively while still "obeying the rules," and making connections between problems, ideas, and theories. The book encourages you to apply the newly acquired knowledge to problems and guides you along the way, but rarely gives you ready answers. "Learning from our own mistakes" often occurs through discussions of non-proofs and common problem solving pitfalls. The reader has to commit to mastering the new theories and techniques by "getting your hands dirty" with the problems, going back and reviewing necessary problem solving techniques and theory, and persistently moving forward in the book. The mathematical world is huge: you'll never know everything, but you'll learn where to find things, how to connect and use them. The rewards will be substantial.

In the interest of fostering a greater awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and everyday life, MSRI and the AMS are publishing books in the Mathematical Circles Library series as a service to young people, their parents and teachers, and the mathematics profession.

Titles in this series are co-published with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI).

Readership

High school teachers and students interested in mathematical problem solving; college professors and research mathematicians interested in the mathematical education of talented middle and high school students.

Reviews

". . . [F]rom the authors' Introduction and the Foreword by Robert L. Bryant, Director of the Mathematical Science Research Institute (MSRI), 'Math circles . . . all have one thing in common: to inspire in students an understanding of and lifelong love for mathematics.' The book, based on the notes from several sessions of the Berkeley Math Circle (BMC), reaches that goal beautifully. It is written with enthusiasm and flair; the book breathes love for mathematics and the desire to convey and share it with the reader. . . . The editors deserve praise for producing a coherent style that is followed throughout. . . . On the whole, the book is thoughtfully organized and well written. . . . [A] welcome beginning for the emerging tradition in the US math education."

-- Alex Bogomolny, MAA Reviews

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