Understanding with System 1

Math must be presented for System 1 to absorb and only incidentally for System 2 to verify. I finally have a sort-of formalizable guideline for teaching and writing math, and what it means to "understand" math. I've been unconsciously following this for years and only now managed to write down explicitly what it is that… Continue reading Understanding with System 1

Make training non zero-sum

Some thoughts about some modern trends in mathematical olympiads that may be concerning. I. The story of the barycentric coordinates I worry about my geometry book. To explain why, let me tell you a story. When I was in high school about six years ago, barycentric coordinates were nearly unknown as an olympiad technique. I… Continue reading Make training non zero-sum

I switched to point-based problem sets

It's not uncommon for technical books to include an admonition from the author that readers must do the exercises and problems. I always feel a little peculiar when I read such warnings. Will something bad happen to me if I don't do the exercises and problems? Of course not. I'll gain some time, but at… Continue reading I switched to point-based problem sets

Lessons from math olympiads

In a previous post I tried to make the point that math olympiads should not be judged by their relevance to research mathematics. In doing so I failed to actually explain why I think math olympiads are a valuable experience for high schoolers, so I want to make amends here. 1. Summary In high school… Continue reading Lessons from math olympiads

Some Thoughts on Olympiad Material Design

(This is a bit of a follow-up to the solution reading post last month. Spoiler warnings: USAMO 2014/6, USAMO 2012/2, TSTST 2016/4, and hints for ELMO 2013/1, IMO 2016/2.) I want to say a little about the process which I use to design my olympiad handouts and classes these days (and thus by extension the… Continue reading Some Thoughts on Olympiad Material Design

On Reading Solutions

(Ed Note: This was earlier posted under the incorrect title "On Designing Olympiad Training". How I managed to mess that up is a long story involving some incompetence with Python scripts, but this is fixed now.) Spoiler warnings: USAMO 2014/1, and hints for Putnam 2014 A4 and B2. You may want to work on these… Continue reading On Reading Solutions