“Dan is by far the best math teacher I have had.”
Founder and Director of Operations of Math for Love
Co-creator of Prime Climb, the award-winning mathematical board game
Designer and Leader of Math Teacher Circles, under Washington STEM grant
Launched the Robinson Center’s Saturday Math Program at the University of Washington
Regular contributor to the New York Times puzzle blog Numberplay
PhD in mathematics from the University of Washington
Excellence in Teaching award from the University of Washington (2005)
Taught college math courses (2004-2010), including:
- Math for Future Elementary School Teachers
- Math for Future High School Teachers
- Differential Equations
- Group Theory and the Rubik’s Cube
Math Fellow in Seattle elementary schools under the GK-12 program (2005-07)
K-12 math teacher at Saint Ann’s School in New York (2002-04)
My Mathematical Autobiography
Math came naturally to me from a young age, and I excelled without having to work that hard. I was a relentless game player, puzzle solver, and maze drawer as a kid. In elementary school I was accelerated until there was nowhere to put me. I was done with calculus as a freshman in high school, and didn’t have any math to do for half of high school.
Even though I was good at math, what I learned in school often felt a little pointless to me. The teachers explained how to do some process (“Here’s how to use the quadratic formula.”) and then we copied them. Who cared? If that was all I had seen of math, I probably would have left the field to do something more interesting. But I was lucky: in the summer of ninth grade I was accepted into a math camp at Hampshire college. The math I did there, and the opportunity of getting to work with kids like me under the tutelage of real mathematicians changed my life.
That experience inoculated me against all future problems with math. Because I knew what the real thing looked like, because I had done math like a real mathematician and had seen the beauty, I was protected when someone told me that boring busywork was all there was to math. The deeper I went into the subject, the better it got. I graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in mathematics, and taught math for two years at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights. In 2004 I came to graduate school at the University of Washington, and in 2010 I graduated with my PhD in algebraic geometry. The whole time I’ve been wondering why kids never get to see the good stuff in math until they’re graduate students. Why is a typical math class at school more likely to be a place where students learn to despise math than to love it? Math for Love is my response to this state of affairs. I want to to give kids the opportunity to be mathematicians right now. I want to teach math to groups, to individuals, to parents, adults, and children. I want to give everyone the chance to fall in love with mathematics.