Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival was founded in spring 2007 to encourage students in grades 6-12 to investigate diverse areas of mathematics they would not ordinarily encounter in the classroom. Mathematicians ranging from college undergraduates to first-rate professionals host tables devoted to different problem sets; students work on the problem sets with each other and with the mathematical host. Students spend perhaps 30 minutes on each of 6 problem sets that they choose from the several dozen available.

After lunch, they enjoy a mathematical presentation (the inaugural speaker was Paul Zeitz of USF). At the 2007 festival at Google, Constance Reid (Julia Robinson's sister and biographer]) also presented, to honor the namesake of the festival.

In the 2007-08 season there is a series of problem solving challenges which can be solved individually or in small teams. These problems are structured similarly to the festival problems, but are designed to be worked on over a span of weeks or months rather than minutes or hours. The awards criteria reward original mathematical work as well as library research, computer programming, and clear communication, with separate prizes for the best work in each of those and many other categories.

Major sponsors of the festival include the desJardins/Blachman fund, MSRI, Google, and Pixar. The 2008 festival takes place on May 4 at Google in Mountain View, CA, and May 10 at Pixar in Emeryville, CA.

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