With this grant, the American Mathematical Society (AMS) is requesting funding for three years to be used primarily to provide ten scholarships ($9,000 each) per academic year to mathematically talented U.S. undergraduates for a semester of study at the Math in Moscow program of the Independent University of Moscow (IUM). The IUM is a small, elite institution of higher learning that focuses primarily on mathematics. It was founded in 1991 at the initiative of a group of well-known Russian research mathematicians, who now comprise the Academic Council of the University. Over the past several years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded three continuing grants to the AMS with funds to be used to support these scholarships. The scholarship will cover a substantial part of the typical cost for a semester of study in the Math in Moscow program. The remaining funds will cover the costs of increased administrative support for the program, which includes a plan to perform a longitudinal survey of scholarship recipients that will follow each student for eight years to measure outcomes of the program with regard to students going on to obtain M.A. and PhD degrees.
The Math in Moscow program provides a unique, intensive research experience for mathematically talented students, taught in English. This program consists primarily of courses in mathematics and theoretical computer science, and provides both an academically enriching experience because it allows mathematically talented students to meet and work with other students who share an intense interest in mathematics, as well as the chance to work with some of the world's leading mathematicians. The program provides an experience of mathematics that the students would not find in the U.S. This is because students experience the field of mathematics as it is practiced in the Russian tradition, the main feature of which has always been the development of a creative approach to mathematics, with the emphasis being on problem solving rather than memorizing theorems. Indeed, at the IUM, discovering mathematics under the guidance of an experienced teacher is the central principle of its program, and the Math in Moscow program emphasizes in-depth understanding of carefully selected material rather than broad surveys of large quantities of material. Many of the students who have received the previous NSF-funded scholarships to attend the Math in Moscow program have gone on to study mathematics in highly competitive graduate programs in the U.S. In addition to providing an academically enriching experience, the Math in Moscow program fills a gap in study abroad opportunities for mathematically talented undergraduates interested in studying research-level mathematics, and the scholarship program provides vital support for such students to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Finally, there is another strong rationale for supporting such a program. It is a way to build vital scholarly connections between the Russian and U.S. mathematics communities, which are certainly in the best interest for the future scientific research of both countries. Creating ties between mathematicians in our two communities, both young and old, will promote scientific cooperation far into the future.