ETH Math Youth Academy
On behalf of the Department of Mathematics at ETH Zurich and SwissMAP, welcome to the ETH Math Youth Academy.
This is a recently-established project, specially designed for Gymnasium students, age 14 or above who want to engage in creative thinking and to delve deeper into exciting mathematics. The regular weekly classes are in the form of mini-courses on various extracurricular topics.
(Switch to the German version of this web page.)
The ETH Math Youth Academy is an ambitious long-term project, recently-established in Autumn 2015, especially designed for Gymnasium students (age 14 or above) who like mathematics and want to delve deeper into its exciting world. The regular weekly sessions take place at ETH Zentrum and treat various topics that go beyond the regular Gymnasium curriculum.
Even though Switzerland is best in Europe in terms of the general quality of mathematical education in school and the level of the students is homogeneously very high, opportunities for the enthusiastic students to reach a level beyond the standard mathematical curriculum do not abound, at least in comparison to other countries (in Eastern Europe or the US, for instance). Our goal is to close this gap by providing students with such opportunities.
Topics outside the regular curriculum
The focus is on creative, out-of-the-box thinking and on rigorous proofs. The treated topics are not part of the regular Gymnasium or university curriculum and are not relevant for exams in school. Instead, the classes can lead to participation in mathematical Olympiads and can inspire various projects. Students will gain inertia for further university pursuits in technical disciplines. Just as a student who likes music can play in an orchestra outside of school, a student who likes mathematics is welcome to attend our programme.
Participation is free of charge. There are absolutely no specific prerequisites besides being comfortable with the standard school material and having the interest and motivation to come to ETH Zurich for two hours of extra mathematics a week. The classes are fun, friendly, and intellectually stimulating. The language of instruction is English.
Organization of classes
The classes are organized in the form of mini-courses on various topics, each one starting completely from scratch and reaching interesting and challenging problems. In this way, students can attend as often as their schedules allow.
There are also separate intermediate and advanced classes. It is therefore possible for a student to attend the programme over the course of several years.
About 40 enthusiastic students currently attend the programme, without formal credit or grades, but just for personal enrichment and academic satisfaction. Most of them are from Zurich, but some commute from Wetzikon, Zug, Luzerne, or even Solothurn or Romanshorn in order to attend the classes. We are pleased that the engineers and scientists of the next generation have such a zeal for challenging mathematics already during years in school.
This article (PDF, 709 KB) in the Bulletin of the VSMP, Issue 131, has been addressed specifically to mathematics teachers and includes a full detailed class sample, giving readers a concrete idea of how a class at the ETH Math Youth Academy looks like.
The project was featured at ETH News: Creative proofs with pigeons and boxes.
The following one-page article (PDF, 55 KB) has been written for the European Mathematical Society Newsletter and is addressed to the entire mathematical community in Europe.
This interview (Russian) was published in the Russian-language Swiss newspaper Nasha Gazeta and is also available as an unofficial translation to English (PDF, 82 KB).
Parallel to the weekly classes, we have launched an initiative for giving public talks at various Gymnasiums in Switzerland, emphasizing the aesthetic side of mathematics. We would love to communicate some of the most beautiful pieces of mathematics and to present them in an elementary and accessible way. These talks are designed for a broad general student audience. We are looking forward to further invitations.
- 27.10.2015: Literargymnasium Rämibühl
Mathematical induction: video
- 07.04.2016: Kantonsschule Baden
Mathematical games: video, slides (PDF, 350 KB)
- 31.09.2016: Realgymnasium Rämibühl- Mathematical colorings
Talk: Diffie-Hellman key exchange
Is it possible for two parties to establish a common secret, if they are only allowed to interact through an insecure channel?
The talk is fully accessible to advanced high school students, who are familiar with elementary number theory (specifically with modular arithmetic). Video
Students can join any time during the school year. To register, please send an email to and include your name, school, number of years left in Gymnasium (counting the current year), and how you heard about the programme.
All classes take place at the Maschinenlaboratorim (ML), Sonneggstrasse 3.
Wednesday, 6.00 to 7.45 p.m.
Room: ML F 34
First class: 21 September 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, 5.15 to 7.00 p.m.
Room: ML F 34
First class: 22 September 2016
Tuesday, 5.15 to 7.00 p.m.
Room: ML F 34
First class: 19 September 2016
There are no classes during school holidays for canton Zurich from 13-24 February (ski break) and 17-28 April (spring break).
There are also no classes from 5-9 June (Studienwochen at ETH).