PROMYS Europe 2022
10 July 2022 saw 36 enthusiastic and high-achieving young mathematicians gather at Wadham College, Oxford for a six-week intensive summer programme, designed to give them the experience of thinking deeply about mathematics in a community of similarly mathematically excited students and staff. PROMYS Europe is organised by a partnership of PROMYS (Boston), Wadham College and the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, and the Clay Mathematics Institute. After a pandemic-induced pause and switch to an online format, this was a very welcome return to the in-person programme, with students able to experience living and studying in Oxford, working both at Wadham and in the Andrew Wiles Building, home of the Oxford Mathematical Institute.
PROMYS Europe 2022 was attended by 27 students, 6 of whom were returning students who first took part in PROMYS Europe Connect (the online programme) in 2021. They were mentored and supported by 9 undergraduate counsellors. Countries represented by participants included Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and the UK and the Isle of Man. Places were offered to students on the basis of their academic potential as demonstrated in their application; we waived some or all of the fee (which is already heavily subsidised) for students who would otherwise be unable to participate, and in addition provided travel funding for those who needed it. Counsellors received a stipend, in addition to their accommodation and food. The programme is funded and resourced by the PROMYS Europe partnership, and by further financial support from alumni of the University of Oxford and Wadham College, and from the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research.
This year, as usual, the core of the programme was a Number Theory course, taught by Glenn Stevens (Boston University, founding Director of PROMYS) and Henry Cohn (Microsoft Research, MIT). Students were encouraged to discover as much as possible for themselves, through their work on daily problem sets and through careful individual mentoring by their counsellor. Alongside this was a Combinatorics course with a similar philosophy, using lecture materials originally developed by Vicky Neale, and delivered by Niki Kalaydzhieva (UCL), Freddie Illingworth (Oxford), Henry Cohn, and Vicky Neale. This was primarily aimed at the returning students, but also attended by a good number of first years.
The first-year students all took up the opportunity to work on an exploration project: small groups of students worked on more open-ended investigative tasks, with each group mentored by a counsellor. In parallel, the returning students also worked in two groups on research projects on advanced topics. The exploration projects and research projects all finished with impressive presentations by the groups of students, and detailed write-ups of their work, showcasing their achievements.
Alongside their own mathematical seminars on Galois theory and algebraic number theory, the counsellors organised a variety of social and mathematical activities to help the students to get to know each other and to build the sense of the community that is so important to the programme, as well as sharing their own favourite mathematical ideas with the students. These were complemented by guest lectures, exposing students to a range of current mathematical research.
We were all delighted to return to the in-person format for PROMYS Europe, and are looking forward to doing it all again in 2023.
Here’s a selection of what participants said after PROMYS Europe 2022.
It exceeded my expectations in every possible way. [Student]
The counsellors were by far my favourite part of this programme. Not only were they supportive, but they were very fun to be around. [Student]
Working with the students was an absolute pleasure. It was so great to see my students grow over the programme and achieve amazing things. [Counsellor]
I love the collaborative atmosphere of PROMYS and the depth in which we study Number Theory. The style is unique and really something very special. [Counsellor]
The number theory course has been fantastic. I especially like how we get the chance to discover the theory before it is developed in lecture. [Student]
The exploration project was one of the most fun things at PROMYS! I loved working together with my group and counsellor. [Student]
It’s an experience that will stick with you a lifetime. It’s hard work, but every bit of it is worth it. [Counsellor]
PROMYS exceeded expectations, it was incredible. The program was more intense than expected but it was manageable. [Student]
I hoped to expand my mathematical horizons and meet like minded people, both of these were absolutely met [Student]
6 weeks at the beginning seems long but now at the end it feels the perfect length [Student]
What can I say? Some of the coolest maths I have seen. It’s so satisfying to find out everything by ourselves. It was challenging, but that was what made it so good. [Student]
The counsellors were some of the best people I’ve met. Not only were they helpful in regards to maths, they were great fun to hang out with. [Student]
I found that at PROMYS we are encouraged to ask for help and to help and I think that’s really nice. [Student]
The Andrew Wiles building was so cool! [Student]
PROMYS has definitely been one of the best few weeks of my life, and I’ve learnt so much from it, both mathematically and grown as a person. [Student]
It’s wonderful to have people around with whom I can really properly discuss mathematics and develop ideas. [Student]
It was a pleasure working with the faculty, everyone is so knowledgeable, passionate but also down to Earth and very nice to talk to. And the lectures are incredibly good. [Student]
The admin team is incredible. I have never seen a programme as well organised as PROMYS Europe. [Student]
I like the intensity of the maths which really makes PROMYS superior to other maths camps. But the community is also very nice. [Student]
The students were very nice and easy to get along with, as well as discuss problems and other things with. It was a relaxing environment. I worked with my roommate a lot and it was a great experience. [Student]
I would recommend it to anyone who’s so enthusiastic about maths they think about it a lot of the time. [Student]
The counsellors were extremely supportive and caring, and without them PROMYS wouldn’t have been as fun (or funny). [Student]
I made some very good friends with the other students and really enjoyed working with other people. [Student]
The academic staff conducted amazing lectures and were very clear and detailed in their explanations. [Student]
The counsellors were very supportive during the tutorials as well as the exploration project. I really enjoyed talking to them about maths. [Student]
Six weeks was a long time, but it felt like it went by very quickly because I was enjoying the program so much. I would have enjoyed staying longer as I felt very sad to leave at the end of the program. [Student]
I would definitely recommend PROMYS to other students. It’s genuinely been the best 6 weeks of my life and I really enjoyed being in a community of like minded mathematicians. [Student]
It lived up to and beyond my expectations! There was even more maths than I thought there was going to be! [Student]
Other maths camps I’ve been to have generally been less than a week in length. The length of PROMYS is definitely the biggest difference it has with other maths camps. It means that you get to know the people better and can really dive deep in the maths which is great. [Student]
Working with the other students was especially helpful because most of them had many new and interesting ways and ideas to solve the problems. [Student]
I was hoping to learn new things, gain a new perspective on these areas of mathematics, meet new people and have a great summer, and I think I succeeded. [Student]
I think it is an amazing programme and it has changed me completely [Student]