I never did much math competition in middle school or high school although I did score well on the MAA competition and on the Math SAT and I went to public junior and high schools that you had to test into. Nonetheless, I have always been fascinated by the world of math geniuses. Richard Rusczyk started a school, Art of Problem Solving, to serve kids who love math, love solving math problems, and maybe want to compete. Richard and I spent an hour diving into the world of elite math competitions and what it takes to succeed in them. I got to scratch the itch that is my fascination with these contests and you get to listen in. A win win.
- Have you always loved math? What's the earliest memory you have of loving math?
- What is Art of Problem Science (AoPS) and what inspired you to start the school?
- What's your experience of math competitions?
- What does it take to score really well on a math competition? How much is brain power, how much is discipline, how much is having seen lots of different problems, how much is tricks and techniques?
- How many hours a day/week do students typically spend preparing for math competitions?
- AoPS is not just about competitions, is it?
- Brag a bit about how many students you've prepped for competitions who have done really well.
- Tell us about your courses, books, videos, community, and other offerings.
About Richard Rusczyk
Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard Rusczyk is one of the co-authors of the Art of Problem Solving classic textbooks, author of Art of Problem Solving's Introduction to Algebra, Introduction to Geometry, and Precalculus textbooks, co-author of Art of Problem Solving's Intermediate Algebra and Prealgebra, one of the co-creators of the Mandelbrot Competition, and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.
About "Art of Problem Solving"
You find a math problem in a book, or maybe on a contest, or maybe your teacher tells you the problem. You work on it for a half-hour. Then another half-hour. It bugs you and bugs you because you know that other kid who wins all the trophies knows how to do the problem. You want to win the trophies, too, but that's not why you spend another half-hour on the problem. You want to know the answer. More than just the answer, you want to know how to do the problem.
Finally, you give up and look up the answer. The solution mostly makes sense, but you're not entirely satisfied. You may not even know why you're not satisfied. You're not satisfied because the solution didn't answer the most important question...
How would I have thought of that?
The creators of this site were this student once. We were the kids who wanted to win the trophies. We worked hard and became the kids who won the trophies. The trophies are in attics now. The problem-solving skills, the love of mathematics, and the friendships forged with peers with similar interests remain. We've applied the skills we've developed through mathematics to a variety of fields in college, then in the professional world. (More.)