2017-18 Session

2017-18 August Immersion

Our summer immersion took take place Tuesday, August 15, 8:00am-4:30pm at Wayne RESA (Annex Building).

House Number Problem (Stephen DeBacker)


  • Coming soon…

Voting Session (Nina White)


Session on Problem-Solving (Nina White)


  • Handout (Problems from Joshua Zucker)

Probability Session (Stephen DeBacker)


  • Coming soon…

2017-18 School-year Program

Each month there is both a Tuesday Circle and a Saturday Circle Participants elect to primarily attend one or the other. During the school year the Wayne County Math Circle will meet in: September, October, November, January, February, March, April, & May.

To sign up for both the immersion and monthly school-year meetings, use the online application.

These sessions are lead by mathematicians and consist of collaborative work on open-ended, exploratory math problems and using those experiences to think about problem-solving in the classroom.

Tuesday Circle:

Saturday Circle:

  • Saturday following Tuesday Circle
  • Time: 9am – 12pm
  • Location: Room 261 in the Crane Liberal Arts Building, Washtenaw Community College. See building labeled LA and parking labeled PS on this map. Parking structure (free) connects to Crane Liberal Arts Building on the second floor.
  • Dates: 9/23/1710/21/1711/18/171/20/18,


Tuesday & Saturday, September 19 & 23, 2017

Session Leader: Beth Wolf
Title: Algorithms
First we’ll hunt for Treasure Island to explore one way, sometimes called a finite state automaton, in which we can give simple but unambiguous instructions to others. We will then think carefully about what an algorithm is, and construct a few examples in pseudocode, which is a helpful way to write down the idea for a computer program (that doesn’t require knowing any computer language). Finally, we’ll use pseudocode to help out various robots and see what tasks we can give to them.

Tuesday & Saturday, October 17 & 21, 2017

Session Leader: Carolyn Norton
Title: O(n_o!)
People alphabetize things all the time. It’s not a big deal. But what if, instead of a few dozen items to sort, you have a few billion? How long would that take? We’re going to continue looking at some of the mathematics of computer science, and try to sort out a few things about algorithmic complexity.

  • Coming soon…

Tuesday & Saturday, November 14 & 18, 2017

Session Leader: Peter Tingley (Loyola University)
Title: When to hold ’em
We consider the age-old question: how do I win my fortune at poker? First a disclaimer: this is a poor career choice. But thinking about it involves some great math! Of course you need to know how good your hand is, which involves some super-fun counting and probability, but you are still left with questions: Should I hold ’em? Should I fold ’em? Should I bet all my money? It can be pretty hard to decide! Here we get some insight into these questions by thinking about simplified games. Along the way we introduce some ideas from game theory, including the idea of Nash equilibrium.

  • Coming soon…

No December Meeting

Tuesday & Saturday, January 16 & 20, 2018

Session Leader: Francesca Gandini
Title: Winning Strategies: A Mathematical Approach to Games
We will explore a variety of two-players games that can be mathematically modeled to find a winning strategy for one of the players. Using a variety of approaches, ranging from symmetry, to reduction to easier cases, we will describe successful winning strategies. We will also realize that in some situation if our adversary plays perfectly, she will force us in a a losing position regardless of what we do. Some games we might see are so hard, we won’t be able to analyze them completely, but they’re still great examples of using reasoning and strategy with our peers or with students.

Tuesday & Saturday, February 20 & 24, 2018

Session Leader: Sarah Koch
Title: Spotting the math in Spot It
Spot It is a card game that children can play (in fact, they tend to be really good at it!). Each card in a Spot It deck has eight pictures on it, and every pair of cards has exactly one picture in common. The basic strategy of the game is to be the first person to spot the common picture between your card and the card in play. We’ll play Spot it and explore ways to answer various questions about the game. We will discover that there is a remarkable amount of mathematics underlying this game, including a tantalizing mathematical mystery.

Tuesday & Saturday, March 20 & 24, 2018

Session Leader: Diana Hubbard
Title: Even, Odd, and Beyond
A simple but very powerful notion in mathematics is that of even and odd numbers. In this session we’ll explore some neat applications of the concept of parity to games and brain-teasers, and end by extending beyond even and odd to some more general ideas.

  • Coming soon…

Tuesday & Saturday, April 17 & 21, 2018

Session Leader: Stephen DeBacker
Title: Probability without Paradoxes
The problems we tend to focus on when introducing probability don’t appeal to everyone. For example, many people have no interest in sports or casino games. Others find problems like the two envelope paradox too subtle to be of any educational value (at least as part of an introduction to probability). The plan is to look at a range of probability examples that are reasonably straightforward to understand.

  • Coming soon…

Tuesday & Saturday, May 15 & 19, 2018

Session Leader: Kartik Prasanna
Title: Mathematics and symmetry
Everyday, either consciously or not, we encounter objects with many symmetries. For example, you might notice symmetries in the patterns on the wrapping paper you use for a birthday present, or in a flooring tile design if you’re renovating your house, or outside in nature — think starfish or honeycombs. We will think about how mathematics can be used to understand (and appreciate) the symmetries of objects we see all around us.

  • Coming soon…