Dr. Kaloyan Slavov

Address:
Department of Mathematics
ETH Zürich
Rämistrasse 101
8092 Zürich

Office: HG G 27.1
Phone: +41 44 632 6351
Email: kaloyan.slavov [at] math.ethz.ch

ETH Math Youth Academy

On behalf of the Department of Mathematics at ETH Zürich and SwissMAP, welcome to the ETH Math Youth Academy. This is a recently-established project, especially designed for Kurzzeitgymnasium students who want to engage in creative thinking and to delve deeper into exciting mathematics. The regular weekly classes are in the form of mini-courses on various extracurricular topics. The official website of the project is available here.

ETH Zurich

Target audience

All interested gymnasium students in the Zürich area, above the age of 14 (students in Kurzzeitgymnasium).

Content

Weekly classes on mathematics topics outside of the regular gymnasium curriculum. There is an abundance of interesting, inspiring, and conceptual mathematics that is totally accessible to high school students, but for which there is unfortunately no place in the gymnasium curriculum, since there is a lot of material to be covered there already. For a glimpse of some sample topics, click here. In fact, these fascinating pieces of mathematics often fall outside of the usual university curriculum as well. They are completely supplementary and extracurricular and are not at all meant to be preparation for tests or exams in school.

The focus in the lectures will be on establishing techniques and developing theory, rather than on isolated problem-solving. The writing of rigorous proofs will be heavily emphasized. At the beginning, classes will consist of mini-courses, 2-4 lectures each, organized by topics, in a way that in each mini-course, we start completely from scratch, establish some foundation on which we step to develop techniques and eventually get to nontrivial and more involved illustrations and applications. Later on in this course, we will be spending more time on a single topic, in order to delve deeper into it.

Prerequisites

There is no specific background required, beyond being fully comfortable with the current school class material. Thus, students from all years in the gymnasium (Kurzzeitgymnasium) are welcome. In fact, those in their early years are particularly encouraged to participate, since we can build background over the years and get to deeper and more sophisticated mathematics in the upcoming years. The only real prerequisite is having interests and motivation for further extracurricular pursuits in mathematics.

Language

The language of instruction will be English; however, students who are still at a beginner's level with it should not be scared, as we will make all efforts to quickly immerse them into mathematical English. There is only some very limited vocabulary needed, and only a few basic grammatical constructions are actually used. A natural outcome of the classes would be that very soon, students will be comfortable with mathematical English.

Goals

Goals include further popularizing mathematics at high school level, discovering and developing talent, as well as providing further preparation for university studies in mathematics or related disciplines. Training for mathematical olympiads will be a byproduct but not the main goal in itself. In fact, the classes will be thought in a style that shrinks the gap between mathematical olympiads preparation on the one hand and theoretical university-level mathematics on the other. This will also have the effect of softening the transition from high school to university.

Model

Other countries have long-standing traditions in such activities for high school students, run by universities. Recently, there have been initiatives to establish a similar culture in Switzerland, and hence the grant from the Swiss government funding this project at ETH Zürich.

Cost and credits

The classes are free of charge and for no official credit or grades, just for the personal enrichment, enjoyment, and satisfaction of the academic curiosity of the students. Additionally, there is no commitment on the students' side: they may come to the first few classes and decide if they like it or not, and whether they would like to continue attending. Moreover, students can attend as often as their schedules allow (of course, we encourage them to attend as regularly as they can afford). So, we encourage students in doubt to give it a try.

Advanced class

For students with more advanced background, or with experience with extracurricular mathematics, there is a separate advanced class. The style of teaching and philosophy are similar as in the main class on Wednesdays, but the treated topics are more difficult. In addition, the advanced mini-courses are slightly longer, 4-6 lectures each.

Press and Publications

This article in the Bulletin of the VSMP, Issue 131, has been addressed specifically to mathematics teachers and includes a full detailed class sample, giving readers a concrete idea of how a class at the ETH Math Youth Academy looks like.

The project was featured at ETH News: Creative proofs with pigeons and boxes.

The following one-page article has been written for the European Mathematical Society Newsletter and is addressed to the entire mathematical community in Europe.

An interview (in Russian) for the Russian-language Swiss newspaper Nasha Gazeta is available here, with an unofficial translation to English here.

Schedule (Spring 2017)

All three levels take place in room ML F 34 (on Sonneggstrasse 3). The main course, intended for students who participate for the first year, is taking place on Wednesdays from 18:00 till 19:45. The intermediate class meets on Thursdays from 17:15 to 19:00 and the advanced class meets on Tuesdays from 17:15 to 19:00.

Popularization

This is an initiative that we have recently launched, and we are working hard on popularizing it. So, if you are reading this and know high school mathematics teachers or students in the Zürich area who might be interested, we would kindly ask you to please forward this information. Thank you!

Public Talks

This is a public talk I have gaven at KS Baden. It is accessible to a broad audience.

I was invited by Literargymnasium Rämibühl to give this public talk. It is accessible to a broad audience.

This is a public talk in cryptography that I have given at the American University in Bulgaria. Is it possible for two parties to establish a common secret, if they are only allowed to interact through an insecure channel? The talk is fully accessible to mathematics bachelors students, as well as to advanced high school students, who are familiar with elementary number theory (specifically with modular arithmetic).