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Monthly Math Hour at the University of Washington



New! Online registration for the 2014 Math Hour Olympiad will open on Sunday, April 27.


Each spring, Seattle-area middle- and junior high-school students are invited to participate in the Monthly Math Hour on the University of Washington's campus. The Monthly Math Hour at the UW is a series of talks that will take place from 1-2pm on Sunday afternoons to introduce students to the beautiful and exciting world of mathematics. The lectures are given completely free of charge in Savery Hall room 260.

Well-behaved parents and teachers are also welcome to attend with the permission of their children. Siblings are free to join in, too.

There will be time for questions and further discussion after the talk.

To receive information about future events, please check back or click here to join our mailing list.

If you have any further questions or comments, please contact:


Events for 2014

2014 Math Hour flyer (click for PDF)
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Jack Lee, Department of Mathematics, University of Washington, The Curvature of Space (flyer) – video available here

Do you think that everything there is to know about geometry was already discovered ages ago? Think again. Since the time of Euclid, the history of geometry has been a dramatic saga that your middle school teachers probably won't tell you about. It led, more than a century ago, to the mind-bending mathematical discovery that the three-dimensional space we live in might be "curved," in much the same way as the two-dimensional surface of the earth is curved.

In this talk you'll have a chance to learn what it could possibly mean mathematically for space to be curved, how we can detect it, and the fascinating story of how we got from Euclid to here. Along the way, you'll find out about "proofs" by professional mathematicians that turned out to be wrong, bitter personal battles over who was right and who was wrong, a million-dollar prize for solving a mathematical problem, and a mysterious modern-day Russian mathematician who earned it but doesn't want it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014
Allison Henrich, Department of Mathematics, Seattle University, A Mathematical Tale of Games on Knots (flyer) –

When you imagine what a mathematician does all day, you probably picture someone standing at a chalkboard covered in equations and numbers. It’s true that many of us do fulfill this stereotype at times, but we also draw amazing and beautiful pictures and think about things that may not seem obviously to be mathematical. In fact, there are many mathematicians who devote their time to thinking about knots. (Think: tying a knot in your shoelace or trying to untangle your headphones.) Some of us even do research on games! We invent interesting games then try to figure out what strategies players can use to win. In my talk, I will show how these two areas of research may actually be combined into an incredibly fun kind of mathematics. We’ll play several games using knots and links and discuss ways we can “stack the deck” and guarantee ourselves a win.

Sunday, May 18, 2014
Vic Reiner, Department of Mathematics, University of Minnesota, Guarding an Art Gallery (flyer) –

How many museum guards do you need to post to see every bit of wall-space in a weird art gallery having N straight walls that meet at funny angles? We'll see why you need N/3 guards at most and how this relates to cutting polygons into triangles.

Sunday, June 1, 2014
Math Hour Olympiad

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Thank you!

The Monthly Math Hour at the University of Washington is supported by the NSF award DMS-095-3011 and the UW Department of Mathematics.