Books and Articles

"Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem"
by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan
Buy at Barnes & Noble Online!

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Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human
by Michael and Ellen Kaplan

"Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free"
by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan

"Chances Are . . . : Adventures in Probability"
by Ellen Kaplan and Michael Kaplan

"The Art of the Infinite: The Pleasures of Mathematics"
by Robert and Ellen Kaplan

more books...


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Disturbed by the poor quality and low level of math education in the country, three of us began The Math Circle in September 1994...



Our courses are located on the campus of Harvard University. [learn more...]


Robert Kaplan is the author of the The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero, (Oxford University Press, 2000) published in Great Britain by Allen Lane/Penguin, in Germany as Die Geschichte der Null, (Campus Verlag); in Italy as Zero, Storia di una Cifra (Rizzoli); in the Netherlands as Het Paradoxale Niets (Bert Bakker); in Brazil as O Nada que Existe (Rocco); and in Mexico, Japan, China, Taiwan and France. You can view the answers to the quiz inspired by this book on our site.

After the immense success of The Nothing That Is, Bob and Ellen Kaplan were invited to write two more books for Oxford University Press:

See also "Solve This: Mathematical Activities for Students and Clubs," by James Tanton.

James Tanton is currently working on a sequel to Solve This, namely Solve This Too: More Mathematical Activities for Students and Clubs. This project may be delayed however as he is about to sign a contract to write The Encyclopedia of Mathematics for Facts on File. This will be a general reference text for high-school and beginning college students. (And writing it is a somewhat daunting task!)


The Math Circle has received both national and international attention.

Many articles about The Math Circle appeared in the summer of 2003 in the British press (The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, and others).

Two articles have appeared in The Boston Globe (November 1999, and March 2000 - and one mention in December 2002 piece, page B-18), one in the American Mathematical Society's Notices (September 1995), and there has even been an article in an Australian paper: The Adelaidean (September 2001). Recently, we have appeared in The Amherst Bulletin (April, 2002).

Bob and Ellen gave a talk on The Math Circle at the American Mathematical Society's yearly convention (January 1997). Their two appearances on Chris Lydon's "The Connection" drew an enormous response, as did Bob's mention of the Math Circle on several BBC radio appearances.

Bob has written a book chapter about the Math Circle in Fostering Creativity in Children K-8, published by Allen & Bacon, 2001.

Jim Tanton has published a number of articles on mathematics in various journals under the Math Circle's name, as well as his book Solve This: Mathematical Activities for Students and Clubs. On the strength of this Jim has been elected to the editorial board for the MAA’s Dolciani series. He has also been invited by the MAA to write a sequel to the book.

Students of the Sunday 2001 class wrote an article for FOCUS (May 2002) about a new proof to a classic problem on combinatorial geometry.

In 2003 Steve Kennedy wrote The Math Circle: Honeybees, Fibonaccis and Renaissance banking, which appeared in Math Horizons (April 2003) published by the Mathematical Association of America.

Publications Relating to The Math Circle by the Kaplans

Robert Kaplan: Article: "The Math Circle" in AMS Notices vol 47 no 7 (September 1995)

Book Chapter: "Teaching Math to Young Children: The Math Circle" in Lynch, Mervin D. and Carole Ruth Harris, Fostering Creativity in Children K-8, Allen & Bacon, 2001

Article: "Mayan Mathematics" appeared in The American Scholar, Summer 1999.

Robert & Ellen Kaplan: Presentation: Talk on The Math Circle at the AMS Convention in San Diego, January 1997

Media: "The Math Circle", on Chris Lydon's The Connection, WBUR, June 6 2000

About the Math Circle

Media: Mark Feeney,"Kaplan Plays the Numbers" in The Boston Globe, November 11, 1999

Media: Tom Long, "Just a Spoonful of Sugar" in The Boston Globe, March 5, 2000

Media: John Drislane, “Mathematics Graduate Comes Full Circle” in The Adelaidean, September 2001.

Media: Pancho Gutstein, "Math teaching comes full 'circle'" in The Amherst Bulletin, April 26, 2002.

Article: Steve Kennedy, "The Math Circle" in Math Horizons, April 2003.

Published under the Math Circle name:

James Tanton: Book: Solve This: Mathematical Activities for Students and Clubs, MAA, 2001.

Articles: “A dozen areal maneuvers” in Math Horizons, September 2000, 26 – 30, 34. This article won the MAA’s 2001 Trevor Evans Award for expository writing.

“A dozen questions about the powers of 2 ” in Math Horizons, September 2001, 5 – 11.

“A dozen questions about a triangle” in Math Horizons April 2002, 23 – 19. “Proof without words” in Mathematics Magazine, 74 no.4, (2001), 313.

“Proof without words.” College Math Journal. In press.

“Introducing binary and ternary expansions via weighings.” College Math Journal. 33:4 (2002), 317 -318.

“A dozen questions to solve the isoperimetric problem.” Math Horizons. In Press.

“Candy Sharing.” Co-authored with Glenn Iba. American Mathematical Monthly. In Press.

“A dozen thoughts on sums of powers.” Math Horizons. Under Review.

By students of the Math Circle:

“Young Students Approach Integer Triangles." FOCUS, Vol. 22, No. 5 (2002), 4-6.