History

PROMYS was founded in 1989 by members of its current faculty who were former participants in the Secondary Science Training Program (SST) founded in 1957 by Arnold Ross. The PROMYS founders' own experiences in SST provided them with a theoretical model for PROMYS which they adapted to their own environment at Boston University to which they introduced strategies for the discovery of bright and eager young students from all backgrounds.

Originally and crucially funded by the National Science Foundation's Young Scholar program, PROMYS is fortunate to have the support of its sponsors, partners, and alumni. PROMYS is dedicated to the principle that no student should be unable to attend due to financial need.  

PROMYS and Boston University 

Over the past 30 years, PROMYS has become an integral part of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Boston University with at least three professors involved every year. 

PROMYS for Teachers 

In 1991, two years after the founding of the student program, PROMYS for Teachers, now a nationally recognized teacher institute, was established in collaboration with the Education Development Center (EDC), with a small group of 4 teachers. PROMYS for Teachers has grown to be a nationally known program attracting up to 50 Massachusetts teachers in recent summers. Teachers spend 6 weeks in the summer working intensely on challenging math alongside the talented high schoolers in PROMYS.  Follow-up activities consist of five full-day workshops offered during the academic year by mathematicians at EDC.  PROMYS for Teachers' mission is to enable the teachers to build the tools they need to create an atmosphere of joyful discovery in their own math classrooms. 

Related Initiatives in Math Education

The PROMYS for Students program has been influential in the development of several other significant initiatives in math education. For more information, please see here.  Central to the PROMYS family of programs is the community of young people that comprises the core of Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists – the original program for talented young mathematicians.  

PROMYS in Europe

In 2015, PROMYS together with its long-time partner, the Clay Mathematics Institute, established PROMYS Europe, an offshoot of PROMYS for European students. PROMYS Europe has now been running successfully at the University of Oxford for four summers. The program at Oxford is a partnership of PROMYS with the Clay Mathematics Institute (CMI), the University of Oxford's Mathematical Institute, and Wadham College, University of Oxford. PROMYS Europe is very closely modeled on PROMYS at Boston University. PROMYS and PROMYS Europe are separately funded.

PROMYS Europe developed from two very successful pilot programs run by the CMI-PROMYS International Alliance during the summers of 2013 and 2014: the CMI-PROMYS Scholarships and the Oxford Masterclasses. The CMI-PROMYS Scholars were immersed in mathematics for six weeks at PROMYS and then traveled to England for a further week to attend the Oxford Masterclasses at Oxford University. The Masterclasses took place at Wadham College and were similar in spirit to the activities at PROMYS. 

On August 16-18, 2013, the CMI-PROMYS International Alliance sponsored a workshop at Oxford University on Developing Exceptional Talent in Mathematics. The goal of the workshop was to explore the various initiatives then underway in Europe aimed at developing exceptional mathematical talent at the secondary level. The long-term outcome hoped for was the creation of an immersion-based program in Europe. This program, PROMYS Europe, has now successfully completed its fourth summer of operations. 

The passing in 2017 of Landon T Clay, founder of the Clay Mathematics Institute, is mourned by PROMYS and by all in and beyond the mathematical world who have benefited from his generosity and his vision. 

PROMYS In India

Open to mathematically talented students from across India, PROMYS India will launch in 2021 at Ashoka University in Sonepat, Haryana near Delhi. The new offshoot PROMYS program will be free for students in 2021 thanks to the vision and generosity of its founding sponsors: Nick Nash & Phalgun Raju, Avi & Sandra Nash, Indira Foundation and Morph.org. The Director of PROMYS India is Professor Ila Varma (University of Toronto and UC San Diego) who has experienced PROMYS in multiple roles including student, counselor, Head Counselor, research mentor, guest lecturer, and PROMYS Foundation Trustee.

PROMYS India is determined that, over the coming years, the cost of participation will continue to be subsidized for all students and that scholarships or financial aid (up to the full cost of participation including travel expenses) will always be available to ensure students can attend regardless of their financial background.

Conceived thanks to a partnership of PROMYS and the PROMYS Foundation with Ashoka University and PROMYS India’s founding sponsors, the new program developed from a pilot programme, the Mehta Fellowships to PROMYS. The Mehta Fellowships forged a pipeline of opportunity by funding the participation in PROMYS of exceptionally gifted young mathematicians from across India. The Mehta Fellows were very carefully selected from each year’s large and impressive pool of applicants. Thanks to funding from Nick Nash, Avi Nash, Morph.org and the Indira Foundation, all expenses were covered for the selected fellows: tuition, room and board, round-trip travel, visa application fees, and books.

There were two Mehta Fellows at PROMYS 2015, both of whom were Returning Fellows the next year. There were a total of six Mehta Fellows in 2016 and eight in 2017, including five Returning Fellows. In 2018, there were twelve Fellows: five first-year students, three returning students, and four Mehta Fellows who were now counsellors. In 2019, the final year of the pilot programme, there were 15 Fellows: six new first-year students, four returning students, one returning junior counsellor, and four returning counsellors. 

In all, forty-three Mehta Fellowships to PROMYS were awarded between 2015 and 2019. These talented young mathematicians have developed deep understanding of the PROMYS approach to learning mathematics and the PROMYS emphasis on building a collaborative mathematical community. As returning students and counsellors, the Mehta Fellows will form the experienced core of  PROMYS India; they are excited about the new programme and their ability to help it thrive.