In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the National Science Foundation Divisions of Mathematical Sciences and Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education promoted the idea of integrated mathematics institutes, which led to a call for Regional Geometry Institutes (RGI) in 1990. The NSF awarded one RGI to a group led by Herb Clemons at the University of Utah focused on teacher education, along with Dan Freed and Karen Uhlenbeck at the University of Texas at Austin, who were seeking to create an institute in mathematics akin to the Aspen Center for Physics. The common goals and ability to integrate their visions led to a very successful early incarnation of PCMI as an RGI during the years 1991–1994. In 1993, this group of leaders realized that to perpetuate the success of what they had created they needed to find more stable footing and an institutional home. The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) agreed to assume responsibility for this budding institute, and this alliance has proved to be an outstanding success: PCMI has become one of the key outreach efforts of IAS, and the support of IAS has allowed PCMI to flourish as it evolved over the intervening years. Perhaps most importantly, the prominent platform provided by IAS is perhaps the most effective way to transmit the conjoined educational and research mission of PCMI.
The fundamental mission of PCMI is to provide an immersive educational and professional development opportunity for several parallel communities from across the larger umbrella of the mathematics profession. PCMI simultaneously promotes high-level research and mathematical training for students and researchers along with an emphasis on the educational, service and outreach missions common to all members of the mathematical community. PCMI provides a unique opportunity for renowned research mathematicians, younger researchers, students at all levels, university faculty, and K–12 school teachers to interact in both a scholarly and leisurely way. The ambience is designed to promote mutual understanding of the interests and challenges in all parts of the field.
PCMI Summer Session
The annual IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute Summer Session is the flagship activity of PCMI. Held in Park City, Utah, the PCMI Summer Session is a three-week residential program that includes several parallel sets of activities for different groups across the entire mathematical community.
- Research Program for advanced scholars and postdocs
- Graduate Summer School for graduate students
- Undergraduate Summer School for undergraduate students (including recent graduates)
- Undergraduate Faculty Program for faculty from U.S. colleges and universities
- Teacher Leadership Program for high school, middle school, and elementary school teachers and coaches
- Workshop on Equity in Mathematics Education for faculty from U.S. colleges and universities
Each year, a different research theme is chosen for the Summer Session, and a set of organizers who are specialists in the topic shape the program. The Summer Session brings together mathematicians and mathematics educators at all levels who are working in exciting areas related to the research theme. The research theme for PCMI 2019 (June 30–July 20, 2019) is Quantum Field Theory and Manifold Invariants. The research theme for PCMI 2020 (July 5–25, 2020) is Computational Aspects of Number Theory. See information about past PCMI programs in the Archives.
At the Summer Session all six of PCMI’s programs meet simultaneously, with each program offering lectures and seminars appropriate to the participants’ mathematical level and individual needs. This intensive mathematical experience combined with interaction among groups with different backgrounds and professional perspectives increases each participant’s appreciation of the mathematical community as a whole and awareness of the issues confronting mathematics and mathematics education today.
This interaction among participants from all programs is the defining feature of PCMI. With few exceptions, all lectures and seminars at the Summer Session are open to all participants. In addition to the lectures, minicourses, and seminars developed specifically for each group, there are daily activities and lectures of general interest. These are designed to foster communication among the participants and deepen insight into mathematics at all levels. Many opportunities for informal and social interaction are available, ranging from organized cross-program activities to informal conversations at lunch or at the chalkboards in the common areas of the conference center. In addition, the PCMI environment facilitates cross-program mentoring to encourage a sense of community among participants and fosters collaborations that can flourish long after the Summer Session has ended.
PCMI Steering Committee