About Art of Problem Solving

You find a math problem in a book, or maybe on a contest, or maybe your teacher tells you the problem. You work on it for a half-hour. Then another half-hour. It bugs you and bugs you because you know that other kid who wins all the trophies knows how to do the problem. You want to win the trophies, too, but that's not why you spend another half-hour on the problem. You want to know the answer. More than just the answer, you want to know how to do the problem.

Finally, you give up and look up the answer. The solution mostly makes sense, but you're not entirely satisfied. You may not even know why you're not satisfied. You're not satisfied because the solution didn't answer the most important question...

How would I have thought of that?

The creators of this site were this student once. We were the kids who wanted to win the trophies. We worked hard and became the kids who won the trophies. The trophies are in attics now. The problem-solving skills, the love of mathematics, and the friendships forged with peers with similar interests remain. We've applied the skills we've developed through mathematics to a variety of fields in college, then in the professional world.

Now we've returned to our starting point - the student in a room, chewing on a pencil, staring at a question, giving up, reading the answer, and thinking...

How would I have thought of that?

This time you are the student. We are building this site for you, to provide a resource you can turn to.

You're stuck on a problem, so you write friends in the Community. You practice with Alcumus. You watch a video. You take an online class. You pick up a book. You don't give up. You learn how to think of the solution. You solve the problem. Then you think...

Next problem.

Our Team

Below are the people building Art of Problem Solving from our office in sunny San Diego. Click on each image to learn more, and check out our Careers page if you'd like to join the team!

Richard Rusczyk
Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is one of the co-authors of the Art of Problem Solving classic textbooks, author of Art of Problem Solving's Introduction to Algebra, Introduction to Geometry, and Precalculus textbooks, co-author of Art of Problem Solving's Intermediate Algebra and Prealgebra, one of the co-creators of the Mandelbrot Competition, and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.
David Patrick
Dave joined AoPS in 2004. He is the author of Art of Problem Solving's Introduction to Counting & Probability, Intermediate Counting & Probability, and Calculus textbooks, and co-author of Prealgebra. Dave earned the sole perfect score on the American High School Mathematics Examination (AHSME) in 1988 and was a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner that year. He attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1987, and the Math Olympiad Summer Program in 1988, where he first met fellow student Richard Rusczyk. He also finished in the top 10 on the Putnam exam in 1991. Dave graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1992 with a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science and an MS in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1997. He was an acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington from 1997 to 2001. Dave is originally from Western New York and is an alumnus of the SUNY Buffalo Gifted Math Program.
Jeremy Copeland
School Director
Jeremy joined AoPS in 2009. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 2006 and was on the math faculty at MIT from 2006 to 2009. He is currently the Online School Director at AoPS. He once specialized in turning hard problems in geometry, algebra, and mathematical physics into easy problems in combinatorics and graph theory. Now he specializes in helping to redistribute mathematics from brilliant teachers to brilliant students. He gets his signs right 50 percent of the time, struggles with problems that lack symmetry, and secretly believes that every problem somehow reduces to the Chinese Remainder Theorem.
Jason Batterson
BA Headmaster
Jason joined AoPS in 2010 to lead development of the Beast Academy series. Before joining AoPS, he taught mathematics and coached the math team at Ligon Middle School. Ligon won state MATHCOUNTS titles in 2008 and 2009. In addition to teaching and coaching at Ligon, Jason coached the math team at Fred Carnage Middle School for the 2009-2010 school year. Ligon and Carnage placed 1st and 2nd respectively in the state MATHCOUNTS competition in 2010, with 6 of the state's top 10 competitors coached by Jason. While teaching, Jason wrote and published "Competition Math for Middle School," and developed AGMath.com. He enjoys puzzles, running, skiing, and playing in the pool with his kids Parker and Ada.
John Chandler
John joined AoPS in 2014. He graduated from UCSD with a bachelor's degree in History. In his free time he enjoys hiking, camping and going to concerts.
Tina Cruickshank
Tina is the office and shipping manager for Art of Problem Solving. She has been with AoPS since 2007. If you have taken an AoPS class, you may know her as Ubermoderator. Tina graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Masters degree in Public Administration. Tina learned to love the California weather when she was a United States Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, and couldn't wait to move back. She loves her fluffy dog Gizmo and bad vampire movies.
James Fung
James joined AoPS in 2012. He received a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science, studying machine learning and linguistics, at UC Berkeley where he spent several years as a teaching assistant in engineering math courses. James has been tutoring and teaching math and science since high school. He was a National MATHCOUNTS contestant, qualified for the USAMO each year of high school, and attended the Physics Olympiad Summer Program. In his spare time, he applies math to boardgames, thinks of ballroom dancing as a Markov process, and is a novice kitchen scientist.
Kyle Guillet
Kyle joined AoPS in 2012. He earned his degrees in Mathematics and Biology from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, he joined Teach For America (TFA) to help close the achievement gap in low income communities. As part of the TFA corps, he worked in rural New Mexico, where he taught 6th and 8th grade math and learned to make friends with sheep. In 2010, his 8th grade students made the highest one year math gains on New Mexico's end-of-year test statewide. He enjoys dancing poorly, and as a matter of principle will only buy prime rib if the number of ribs is actually prime.
Anika Huhn
Anika joined AoPS in 2013. She earned her degree in Physics from MIT. Anika directed MIT Junction, a college-level summer program for high school students. She worked in energy consulting for biomass fuel producers, and taught math and science at Acera School near Boston. Anika loves condensed matter physics, backpacking, puzzle hunts, and enabling people to learn. She is developing online educational interfaces and games to go along with AoPS's new elementary school curriculum, Beast Academy.
Juliet Kim
Juliet joined AoPS in 2014. She completed her B.S. in Environmental Engineering at Cornell, and her Master of Engineering at UVA. She later left the engineering field to work in database management and programming. She has been tutoring and teaching math in various paid and unpaid capacities since high school, and still finds teaching very rewarding.
Palmer Mebane
Palmer joined AoPS in 2012 shortly after graduating from Harvey Mudd College the same year. As a math contest participant, he was honorable mention on the USAMO in 2007, a US IMO team candidate in 2008, and a top 15 finisher on the Putnam in 2009 and 2011. During his four years of college, he graded for the USAMO and MOSP four times and single-handedly managed the WOOT "Problem of the Day" service. Outside of mathematics, Palmer solves and writes logic puzzles. He solves them fast enough to have been named the US Puzzle Champion in 2011, 2013, and 2014, and World Puzzle Champion in 2011 with top-3 finishes in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His best constructions can be seen on the tests he made for Logic Masters India.
Tasha Moyer
In 2009, Tasha graduated with a math degree from Arizona State, where Barack Obama gave her commencement address. After college, she joined Teach For America and taught Algebra I and Algebra Readiness for two years at Willow Glen High School in San Jose, CA. She then moved to Oakland, CA to teach Precalc and AP Calc at KIPP King Collegiate High School (Go Lions!). At King, she also served as Math Department Chair. In 2014, Tasha joined AoPS, where she helps manage the grading system and keep everything organized, among other things. Though she misses her students in northern California, Tasha loves living in sunny San Diego. In her spare time, Tasha enjoys running along the beach and cuddling with her adorable cat.
Erich Owen
The actual date that Erich "joined AoPS" is still in question. It's a long story. He is the illustrator of AoPS's new math series for younger children, Beast Academy. Erich doesn't have a degree in mathematics but he draws awesome creatures doing math better than anyone else in the office, so he has that going for him. He has been drawing since he was old enough to hold a crayon and has put that experience to good use in his 14 years as a professional illustrator. Some highlights of his career before joining AoPS include co-creating and illustrating the internationally published graphic novel and comic strip series, Mail Order Ninja, and working with William Shatner on a comic book series based on Mr. Shatner's TekWar novels and TV series. He even got to have lunch with Mr. Shatner to discuss the project. In his spare time, Erich draws other stuff.
David Quarfoot
David Quarfoot is an educator with experience in America's top private schools, including work at the middle school, high school, and college levels. His innovative techniques and demanding standards earned him the 2007 Presidential Scholar teacher award selection for the state of Connecticut. In addition to teaching courses across the math curriculum - from Algebra I to undergraduate Abstract Algebra - he is responsible for designing multilevel computer science curricula in C++ and Java. Outside of education, David is an accomplished classical musician (playing violin, viola, and cello) and has constructed over 35 crossword puzzles for The New York Times. His recent public engagements include talks titled "How To Teach Mathematics" and "Deconstructing Constructing (The Art and Science of Making Crossword Puzzles)" as well as a print article by the same name in ESOPUS magazine. He holds a BS and MS in theoretical mathematics and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics education research.
Shannon Rogers
Shannon joined AoPS in 2011 after earning her degree in Mathematics from UCLA. While at UCLA, Shannon also spent a great deal of time delving into education, especially at the elementary level. She completed extensive coursework in Education, spent hundreds of hours assisting in classrooms at the UCLA Lab School, and was a research assistant on studies with UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Sciences. Shannon also spent two years teaching at the Los Angeles Math Circle (LAMC), and was the Lead Instructor for the LAMC's Junior Group in 2010. Now in San Diego, she frequently teaches student groups at the San Diego Math Circle and is an active participant in the San Diego Math Teachers' Circle. Shannon is co-author of AoPS's Beast Academy series of books for students in grades 2-5. She loves math jokes, sign language, Doctor Who, and all things combinatorics.
Ho Seung (Paul) Ryu
Paul joined AoPS in 2009. He works on Alcumus with much pride and teaches with much joy in the Art of Problem Solving Online School. Paul got an early start on math and programming when he discovered QBasic on his computer when he was six years old and remarked that sine functions looked very pretty, while tangent functions looked very angry. Before attending Harvard, he was a third-place winner at National MATHCOUNTS, a two-time perfect scorer on the American Mathematics Contest (AMC) 12, a participant at the Research Science Institute, and a prize winner at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. In his free time, he enjoys using emacs, waterbending, collecting and playing musical instruments, and talking about himself in the third person. Paul lives with four cats, including a Siamese kitten named after Elijah Wood.
Paul Salerno
Paul joined AoPS in 2013. He first discovered his love of mathematics in high school, when an inspirational teacher introduced him to the Pomona-Wisconsin Mathematics Talent Search. He went on to earn his degree in mathematics from Pomona College, and in his junior year he traveled to Hungary to study combinatorics in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program. After receiving the Hugh J. Hamilton Prize for an outstanding senior math major, he went on to graduate with a Master's degree in mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, where he spent several years as a teaching assistant for math courses. In his free time, Paul enjoys making music, playing adventure games, and writing computer programs for mathematical problems.
Micah Spence
Micah joined AoPS in 2012 and is a college student. His hobbies include tournament bass fishing and bow hunting in the off season. He loves old school rock and roll and hopes to graduate with his mechanical engineering degree in 2018.
Amy Szczepanski
Amy joined AoPS in 2013. She completed her Ph.D. in mathematics in 2001 at the University of California, San Diego and then spent a few years living in Ithaca, NY while teaching math at an assortment of institutions in the mid-Atlantic states before ending up at the University of Tennessee. While at UT she taught still more math and later coordinated education and outreach for the Remote Data Analysis and Visualization Center. She is an alumna of the Research Science Institute and has served on the staff of the program six times, including as Director of the 2009 and 2010 sessions. She enjoys sewing and knitting, especially projects with a mathematical flavor to them.
Deven Ware
Deven joined AoPS in 2014. During this same year he earned both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in mathematics from UCLA. While there, he led the Intermediate Circle at the Los Angeles Math Circle and played with electron lasers for fun. Outside of school, he attended MathPath twice as a counselor and attended the UCLA Logic Summer School as a student. In his free time, Deven enjoys solving logic puzzles and pondering about interesting math problems. He also acknowledges the concerning fact that in this bio he has claimed attending school as one of his outside of school activities.
Phyllis Xu
Phyllis joined AoPS at the start of 2014. Originally from Maryland, she completed her B.S. at MIT in Materials Science and Engineering and continued on to finish her Ph.D. at UC-San Diego where she studied various materials on the nanoscale. Phyllis has tutored and taught math since her high school years and still loves it even after all this time. In all her time living near the beaches of San Diego, she still has not once gone swimming in the waters.
Laura Zehender
Laura first made an AoPS account when she was in middle school in 2004. After many years of taking AoPS's awesome classes, she was excited to start working as a class assistant while she was attending Stanford and then to join AoPS full-time soon after graduating in 2014. She's loved math and teaching for a long time, whether going to math meets (when she could find enough other homeschoolers to form a team!), attending math camps as a camper or a counseler, or coaching a Mathcounts team. While at Stanford, Laura studied a mix of mathematics, computer science, and classics; the latter gave her the chance to study abroad in Italy and be very excited about visiting ancient ruins like those on the left. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, many styles of dancing, working on crafts, and eating extremely dark chocolate.

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