Letter from Kelly – December 16th 2019

Dear HCSSiM,

Your participation in the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics is always appreciated and again invited.

Enthusiastic and generous Summer Studies alums have enabled us to maintain our high faculty/student ratio and to honor our commitment to being able to offer adequate financial aid. Without drawing upon or contributing more than dorm rental to Hampshire College’s general resources we have ended in the black each year since the demise of NSF’s Young Scholars Programs. [Supporting a National Treasure] Contributions made to HCSSiM through Hampshire College have always been used exclusively for HCSSiM; and what is left of student fees after paying dorm rentals and food also goes into HCSSiM’s operating budget. 

Loyal and forward-looking HCSSiM alums have now established the YP MATH FOUNDATION as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation whose exclusive mission is to help cover the operational costs of the Summer Studies and to endow it for future years. Contributing to YPMF online is now the preferred way to support the Summer Studies. This fund-raising appeal continues in the penultimate paragraph below.

Last year we had 589 applicants of whom 232 returned their Interesting Test. 16 girls were among the 43 who accepted one of our 55 invitations; and we enjoyed a congenial, bright, and remarkably polite cohort of students from Canada, China, Iceland, Singapore, South Korea, UK,   and 13 states. Alum and frequent staff member Ari Tuner, now Professor of Physics at Technion in Israel, designed an Information Theory Maxi which started with Shannon’s definition of entropy and constructed error correcting codes based on finite fields; for his 7th summer here University of Dallas professor Paul Phillips taught Surreal Numbers (and combinatorial games); alums Amber Verser and Milo Brandt persuaded Kelly to revive the Dynamics Maxi–and made it work; frequent faculty member Josh Greene, one of 3 HCSSiM alums tenured at Boston College, taught Minis on Ramsey Theory and Graph Theory. Stephen Wolfram made his 11th visit to the Summer Studies. Many students arrived knowing LaTeX, and most left having used it for the weekly program journal.

On January 17, 2019 we were informed that, responding to a financial crisis, Hampshire College’s Trustees (some now ex-), (then new) President (now ex-), and Treasurer (also, finally, now ex-) had decided to seek a “strategic partner” for Hampshire and, in what is now widely recognized as a mistake, not to enroll a full entering class in September, 2019. (Commitments to pre-existing students, and to HCSSiM, 2019 were to be, and are being, honored.) Layoffs occurred. Sit-ins, protests, votes of no confidence, media support, resignations at the top, emergency fund-raising, and an interim President also occurred as Hampshire College’s students, alums, and (current and past) faculty refused to let Hampshire die. A lot of support for HCSSiM, within and beyond the College we expressed. HCSSiM began in the same year as HC with which it shares much of the mission and educational philosophy. There remains a lot of work to be done (filmmaker Ken Burns is leading a $60,000,000 fund drive), but the optimistic spirit of an independent Hampshire is refreshed. HCSSiM is recognized as an asset, especially now because of our connections to high schools and our pioneering use of the College’s summer campus. 

Well over 5117 math people (and some guests) are expected at the Joint (MAA/AMS) Mathematics Meetings in Denver, CO,  Jan. 15-18, 2020 (ending a week before the end of a Year of the Pig)  If you can be there then, please come to the

   YP17 HCSSiM Reunion Breakfast, Friday, 7:17-9:00 am, in Mineral Hall A, Hyatt;

we’d appreciate your letting us know if you think you’ll be there, so that we can estimate attendance and enjoy looking forward to seeing you. JMM registration isn’t needed for the YP17 breakfast or to attend talks or the Who-Wants-to-Be-a-Mathematician-? contest for high school students, but a badge is needed to visit the book and mathematical art exhibits. Registration fees, which are low for students, don’t cover convention costs, so the JMM, MAA, and AMS (whose Epsilon Fund provides financial aid for some HCSSiM students) are also support-worthy causes. Ask me in advance (do people still know what a sase is?) for yellow pig stickers or get them from me in Denver; putting a yp sticker on the transparent badge-holder (instead of on the dated badge itself) helps recycle both. 

Please help plan (e.g., volunteer, or suggest speakers, sponsors, special events,…) and plan to be a part of

   YELLOW PIG MATH DAYS, Sat. July 15 – Tuesday, July 18, 2023 = 17 * 7 * 17

during the 3*17 = 51st session of the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics. Also, please share reactions to and suggestions for hcssim.org (tweaks happen often), post to the HCSSiM Facebook page, and share reminiscences and pictures (digital and pre-); let us know if you are interested in teaching or giving a Prime Time Theorem; send 17s and yellow pig sightings; help us identify promising students (for HC as well as for HCSSiM) and potential donors; mention HCSSiM in your CV and online bios (we’re smaller than other summer math programs and need greater visibility); make suggestions (soon) for the 2020 HCSSiM Interesting Test; and consider favorably the next paragraph’s invitation. Thank you.

If you can, contribute to keep the Summer Studies going. We’ve earned your support and might have been the first educational/religious/political/humanitarian cause to have done so. We don’t expect major philanthropy from those still in school, unemployed, or just beginning careers or families; but we hope all alums feel that HCSSiM deserves something. Older alums have discovered tax benefits, companies that (and parents who) match donations, and the fact that 17 has multiples and even powers, (the latter of which are odd). However long ago it was that you sang Yellow Pigs Day carols, hiked the Holyoke Ridge, or enjoyed a Prime Time Theorem, please help preserve the existence of the life-changing math program where “everybody knows your name”. We prefer online donations, but checks (made out to YP Math Foundation) can be sent to the Foundation’s secretary at:

YP Math Foundation
c/o Adam Litke ‘79, Secretary
440 West End Avenue, Apt 12B
New York, NY 10024


Kelly and Susan

David C.  Kelly, Founder and Director 

Susan Goff, Program Coordinator 

Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics 

Box NS, Hampshire College
893 West St.
Amherst, MA 01002-3359 

Fax: 413-559-5448 


The 48th Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics will happen June 28 – August 8, 2020.

Remember that applying is fast, free, fun, obligationless, and doable online even while other options are being explored; not applying unnecessarily closes doors, means not seeing the Interesting Test, and may cause drowsiness and boredom.