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About The AoPS Online School
On this page:
Welcome To The School!
The Art of Problem Solving website launched in 2003, with just a dozen students enrolled in each of two classes in summer courses that year. But two of these students would go on to win medals five years later at the International Math Olympiad and the China Girls Math Olympiad, and several others would go on to graduate from universities such as MIT, Princeton, and Harvard.
We offer many more classes now and have written the textbooks that go along with most of them. You can learn about the curriculum below, and more about our classes here.
Last year, 8,000 students took 12,500 classes with us. This year, students will have hundreds of choices from among our pure math, contest, science, and programming classes. The Art of Problem Solving website currently boasts over 270,000 members in its online community and over 5 million posts in the AoPS forums.
For a more detailed history of Art of Problem Solving, please see this page.
Our curriculum is specifically designed for outstanding math students in grades 5-12. We present a much broader and deeper exploration of challenging mathematics than a typical math curriculum, and we show students how to apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills to difficult problems. We also help students learn the critical problem-solving skills necessary for success in mathematics competitions (such as MATHCOUNTS and the AMC), top universities, and competitive careers.
Please see this page for a complete list of the AoPS Curriculum textbooks and for more details about each book.
Why Problem Solving?
Many of the careers available today are wildly different than they were two decades ago, or didn't exist at all back then. As globalization and computerization continues, the professional landscape will shift even faster for today's students. We can't know what new industries will appear, what new careers will be available, and what specific skills will be needed to survive and thrive amidst these changes.
Yet schools have not changed much in the past several decades. Many homework assignments and tests still reward memorization and regurgitation of mastered facts and never confront students with problems that are unlike anything the student has seen before. Repeating mastered tasks may have been valuable 50 years ago, but now mastering narrow skills just sets students up to compete with computers. That’s a battle humans are doomed to lose. Computers are better than we are at pretty much every function they perform.
But while machines are gradually taking over more and more well-understood tasks, they're still usually no match for us when facing novel problems. This critical skill—overcoming obstacles we've never encountered before—is problem solving. By developing problem solving skills, we learn how to logically work our way through any problems we may face. The memorizer can only solve problems he has encountered already, but the problem solver is flexible and can solve problems she's never seen before.
At Art of Problem Solving, we use mathematics as a vehicle to teach problem solving. Math isn't the only way to learn problem solving, but we think it is the best way. Sadly, math is often taught as "stuff we know." But mathematics isn't just "stuff we know." It's how we know it.
Math is the process by which we combine facts to deduce new facts. At heart, it is discovery. It’s the language we use to model the world around us, which makes it our most powerful problem solving tool.
You may also like to read over this article written by AoPS founder Richard Rusczyk: What is Problem Solving?
Who Are We?
The staff and teachers of the Art of Problem Solving Online School are mathematicians, physicists, statisticians, Math Olympiad winners, current and former traders, US and world puzzle champions, and educators. We saw a surge in the need for excellent problem-solving skills in our professional disciplines, and we wanted to do something to help prepare the future generations.
All of us watched fellow classmates struggle when faced with novel problems. Some of us taught classrooms full of those students. Many of us have been those students.
In writing the AoPS curriculum, the authors created the books they wish they'd had when they were students, and we built the school we always wished we could teach at–one filled with engaging, interesting, inquisitive students who love learning and love math. And we're passionate about helping our students become the best problem-solvers that they can be.
For more details about the accomplished people you will work with in the AoPS Online School, please see our Instructors and Staff pages.