Richard Rusczyk, United States of America
Posted Monday 17 March 2014
Richard Rusczyk is widely known for the Art of Problem Solving, an endeavour that in the past ten years
has emerged as a major force in the United States and abroad in mathematical education, especially for
the most able students.
As a student, Richard Rusczyk participated in a wide range of contests in the United States in the
1980s, and was an alternate for the US IMO team in 1989. In 1990, he co-founded the Mandelbrot
Competition, which is now in its 24th year. In 1993 and 1994, he co-wrote the Art of Problem Solving:
Volumes 1 and 2, which are still the most widely-used texts by students interested in math competitions.
In 2003, he founded the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) website (www.aops.com), which includes an
online community and online school for high-performing math students. The AoPS online school teaches
several thousand students each year in a wide range of classes. The AoPS online community is broadly
international, and has over 125,000 members who have posted nearly 3 million messages. The site
also includes many other open resources for students interested in math competitions.
Alongside his work on the AoPS website, Richard has authored or co-authored 5 more textbooks for
outstanding math students, and developed several hundred online videos. AoPS has also developed
various resources in partnership with MATHCOUNTS, the most prominent middle school math contest
in the United States.
In 2004 Richard formed, and is president of, the Art of Problem Solving Foundation to administer
the USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS), which was created by Dr. George Berzsenyi in the 1980s,
an open contest that gives students a full month to solve five hard problems, providing a nice counterpoint
to timed math contests. The Foundation also runs and Richard Rusczyk personally supports the
Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving, a three-week residential summer program for
underserved New York City middle school students with talent in math which is
Richard has also served on the advisory boards of several competition-related organizations
in the United States, including the American Mathematics Competitions, Mu Alpha Theta, and the
American Regions Mathematics League.
Richard Rusczyk has redefined how talented students interact with one-another and how
connected the math contest community is. The Art of Problem Solving website trains students
around the world who otherwise might not have access to good contest training. The website
also facilitates a community of young mathematicians that helps all of them succeed at a
higher level. Richard's work has increased the reach of all math competitions and has greatly
enriched the lives of contest participants.
In addition to creating a vehicle for communication among students interested in mathematics,
Richard has made high-level training available online through free access videos and online games.
He has developed a huge variety of high-quality and engaging online videos. He personally
supports math summer programs, including the Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving for
underserved students with talent in math. The company he started provides a vehicle for young
mathematicians to spend their careers doing this kind of outreach, which is a very important
role and will increase the resources available to everyone.
In any given field of human endeavor, it is rare to be able to say that a single person has
changed the entire landscape. But in the area of mathematics competition, it may be claimed that
Richard Rusczyk has done exactly that.
Since the Art of Problem Solving forum went online in 2003, it has become the absolute focus point
of the international community of students participating in high-level mathematics competitions,
including the national and international Olympiads. Before AoPS, students involved in
competitions generally interacted with each other directly, or via their local competitions,
and occasionally at international competitions. Now, these students belong to a global
community with a permanent knowledge base (the forum archives) and can far more easily
connect with peers that they might not otherwise encounter.
And this cannot be attributed solely to the fact that we now live in the world of social media,
which did not exist in the current form a decade ago; the depth of intellectual discussion carried
on via AoPS far exceeds what one generally finds in social media, and also the open nature of the
forum is crucial to its long-term educational value because members age in and out of the forum
on a regular basis. The forum has had such an impact that for it alone Richard merits recognition.
Also with regard to problem-setting, AoPS has made the job immensely harder: students at all levels
of mathematics competitions are acquiring basic knowledge much more quickly, forcing the community to
be more highly creative in order to set reasonable problems for them. The community of mathematicians
and math educators working on competitions itself has thus been challenged!
Richard Rusczyk has played a significant role in the development of mathematical challenges
worldwide and hence the World Federation of Mathematics Competitions, WFNMC, is proud to recognize
him with the Paul Erdös Award 2014.