“Exceptionally gifted young math students often find classroom math unbearably easy and tedious,” wrote Ingfei Chen in a New Yorker magazine feature.

“By offering online instruction in math that’s more complex than what’s in standard gifted-and-talented programs, AoPS has become a lifeline for math whizzes,” Chen continues.

The New Yorker article, published Friday, November 12, 2021, profiles AoPS Founder Richard Rusczyk and his history with math. The article also details how Art of Problem Solving has grown into what it is today: A place for advanced young math students to find challenge and community. 

Illustration by Jordy van den Nieuwendijk

Richard and his contest comrades recognized in the early '90s that “opportunities to learn advanced math were scarce and unevenly distributed. Many young math enthusiasts didn’t know about competitions and élite summer programs,” the article said. 

So he and mathematician Sandor Lehoczky decided to co-write a book that could help democratize advanced math, titled The Art of Problem Solving

“Looking back at their Olympiad boot camp experiences, the pair saw that, although some of the mathletes were unquestionably smarter, others simply had earlier exposure to complex math, or access to university mathematicians, or had attended special schools with a high-octane math-team culture,” the article stated.

A decade later, AoPS.com and its online community was born, based on those initial books. And nine years after that, AoPS developed Beast Academy for elementary students, “a further step toward democratizing advanced learning,” the article said.

From the very AoPS first textbook to Beast Academy’s elementary curriculum, Art of Problem Solving has worked to increase and diversify onramps to advanced math. 

Today, the AoPS online space is the largest K-12 math community in the world. 

“Its free online forums also serve as a vital social network, allowing math prodigies to connect with kindred spirits every day.”  

In the article, Richard also discusses AoPS’s real impact, which he says is “revealing to the kids themselves how much they can do’ at something they love.”  

“[Richard] loved math — it had taught him about resilience, creativity, and the joys of finding one’s tribe.”
— The New Yorker

Read the full New Yorker article.

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