Sometimes the best advice is no advice

信言不美,美言不信。 I get a lot of questions that are so general that there is no useful answer I can give, e.g., "how do I get better at geometry?". What do you want from me? Go do more problems, sheesh. These days, in my instructions for contacting me, I tell people to be as specific as… Continue reading Sometimes the best advice is no advice

Meritocracy is the worst form of admissions except for all the other ones

I'm now going to say something explicitly that I hinted at in June: I don't think a student deserves to make MOP more because they had a higher score than another student. I think it's easy to get this impression because the selection for MOP is done by score cutoffs. So it sure looks that… Continue reading Meritocracy is the worst form of admissions except for all the other ones

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

MOP should do a better job of supporting its students in not-June

Up to now I always felt a little saddened when I see people drop out of the IMO or EGMO team selection. But actually, really I should be asking myself what I (as a coach) could do better to make sure the students know we value their effort, even if they ultimately don't make the… Continue reading MOP should do a better job of supporting its students in not-June

Undergraduate Math 011: a firsT yeaR coursE in geometrY

tl;dr I parodied my own book, download the new version here. People often complain to me about how olympiad geometry is just about knowing a bunch of configurations or theorems. But it recently occurred to me that when you actually get down to its core, the amount of specific knowledge that you need to do… Continue reading Undergraduate Math 011: a firsT yeaR coursE in geometrY

Math contest platitudes, v3

I think it would be nice if every few years I updated my generic answer to "how do I get better at math contests?". So here is the 2019 version. Unlike previous instances, I'm going to be a little less olympiad-focused than I usually am, since these days I get a lot of people asking… Continue reading Math contest platitudes, v3