Math Circles adds up to unique experience for talented high school students

Two-week, grant-funded program attracts visiting scholars and students to campus What is it about…

Georgia (Aug 22, 2012)Two-week, grant-funded program attracts visiting scholars and students to campus

What is it about stochastic matrices, Pascal's triangle and truels that bring out the best in high school math students?

For 15 high school math students who visited campus recently the answer was a love of mathematics and an opportunity to learn from some high-powered leaders in the field.

Kennesaw State’s Math Circles program exposed the young scholars to department faculty as well as mathematicians from the University of Georgia, Georgia State University and Emory University.  

The program, which concluded in early August, was funded by a Mathematical Association of America Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant awarded by the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation to professors Virginia Watson (PI), Mary Garner (co-PI)  and Tatiana Rudchenko (co-PI). The three helped organize the event.

Kennesaw State professors Louise Lawson, Joe DeMaio, Josip Derado, Ken Keating and Sean Ellermeyer, interim chair, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, also participated in the two-week program.

“I had the opportunity to drop in several times throughout the program and I was truly amazed at how engaged and excited the students were,” said Ellermeyer.  “They were happy and actively working the whole time they were here. These are definitely students who are going to go on to excel in mathematics.”

Visiting speakers included: Igor Belykh, Mathematics Department and Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University and member of the Center for Nonlinear Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Andrey Shilnikov, professor of Mathematics, The Neuroscience Institute, joint with Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Georgia State University; Ron Gould, professor of Mathematics at Emory University; and Alexander Petukhov, professor of Mathematics at the University of Georgia.

The students worked on various projects throughout the two weeks, presenting their work at the conclusion of the program to an audience of interested parents and faculty. Kennesaw State professors Mary Garner, Ken Keating, Josip Derado and Tatiana Rudchenko supervised the students’ projects.

“The presentations that the student groups gave today were truly impressive. Mary's group presented their work on decision-making that required them to learn about ordering of sets, stochastic matrices, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors,” said Ellermeyer.

“Ken's group focused on Pascal's triangle, while Tatiana's group demonstrated great understanding of complex numbers.  Josip's group presented several game-theoretic topics such as duels and truels.”

Professors Marla Bell, Anda Gadidov and Ellemeyer served as judges of the presentations along with Petukhov of UGA and Inha Kozlov, CEO of Algosoft Corp.

“It was very hard for us to pick a winner because all of the presentations were so good, but we ended up choosing Ken's group,” Ellermeyer said. “Petukhov and Kozlov were extremely impressed by the talent of the high school students that participated in this program and of the quality of our Math Circles program overall.

“Based on the success of this event, I foresee that this activity is going to grow and thrive. It is an outstanding example of the efforts that we have been making to engage the community into the life of the University and our department.”

For more information about the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, please visit:

-- Robert S. Godlewski

Department of Mathematics and Statistics


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit