PRIMES: Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering and Science for High School Students
In mathematics you don't understand things, you just get used to them
- John von Neumann
PRIMES includes four sections:
- MIT PRIMES is a free year-long after-school program that offers research projects and guided reading to high school students living within driving distance from Boston. Program participants work with MIT researchers on exciting unsolved problems in mathematics, computer science, and computational biology.
- PRIMES-USA is a free year-long distance mentoring math research section for high school juniors and sophomores from across the United States (outside of Greater Boston).
- Menezes Challenge PRIMES Circle is a free spring-term math enrichment section for high school students from underrepresented groups living within commuting distance from Boston.
- Yulia's Dream is a free math enrichment and research program for exceptional high school students (grades 9-11) from Ukraine.
PRIMES runs two collaborative initiatives:
- MathROOTS (a joint program with MIT Admissions) is a free two-week mathematical talent accelerator residential summer program hosted by MIT PRIMES for nationally selected high-potential high school students from underrepresented backgrounds or underserved communities.
- CrowdMath (a joint program with the Art of Problem Solving) is a massive online collaborative year-long research project open to all high school and college students around the world.
PRIMES also has an affiliate program for local middle schoolers:
- PRIMES STEP is a year-long math enrichment program for middle school students from Greater Boston.
Congratulations to the fourteen PRIMES students who became USA Regional Medalists in the 2022 S.-T. Yau High School Science Award!
Slides and photos from 2022 Virtual Fall-Term PRIMES Conference are posted!
Article about PRIMES is featured in MIT Spectrum
PRIMES has won MIT's 2021 MLK Leadership Group Award for deep and coordinated commitment to improving diversity in mathematics, embodying the spirit of Dr. King’s work, including integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome!
Message from PRIMES Chief Research Advisor Prof. Pavel Etingof
Welcome to PRIMES!
Mathematics is a unique and wonderful way of life. The goal of PRIMES is to allow high school students to discover the joy of being a research mathematician, so that more of them choose mathematical research as their profession. In this program you will learn, through a first-hand experience, how mathematicians ask and answer questions, look for patterns and form conjectures, discuss their work and collaborate with each other, read and write mathematical texts, make and correct mistakes, feel frustrated and elated, give talks, and use sophisticated computer systems. You will also be able to discover how mathematics can be applied to real life problems, for example, in molecular biology (in particular, in cancer research). And hopefully you will experience the unforgettable thrill of proving a new theorem or solving a previously unsolved problem! This will develop into a lifelong passion for mathematics. I promise.
Message from PRIMES Computer Science Coordinator Prof. Srini Devadas
Computer Science is the study of the principles and uses of computers. Computers are changing the way we lead our lives; how we study, how we work, and how we communicate. Computer Science is a fascinating blend of mathematics and engineering, with applications in the physical sciences and humanities, economics and finance, among other fields. The goal of the Computer Science track of PRIMES is to inspire the next generation of great computer science researchers who will invent, design and program intelligent computers that we can only dream of today. You will learn how to think computationally, how to design algorithms to solve problems, how to prove correctness and efficiency of algorithms, and how to code them in software. You will often be baffled as to why your software doesn't do what you think it does, but will be delighted when you diagnose the problem, ecstatic when your code finally works, proud to demonstrate it to everyone, and immensely gratified when someone makes use of it.
Message from PRIMES Circle coordinators Marisa Gaetz and Mary Stelow
Menezes Challenge PRIMES Circle is a wonderful way for high school students to learn fun and exciting mathematics that isn’t normally covered in school. As a Circle Scholar, you will work with a tight-knit group of peers under the mentorship of a knowledgeable and friendly MIT undergrad, who can answer your questions about math, college life, and MIT. You will be able to study topics that are tailored to your background and interests, and to find new areas of exploration that particularly excite you. PRIMES Circle will expand your way of thinking and help you grow as a student and mathematician. You’ll leave the program with new knowledge, problem solving skills, and the support of the Circle community. We’re excited to be the new coordinators of PRIMES Circle and look forward to receiving your applications.
For more detail, see
- Q&A with the Chief Research Advisor
- How to Succeed in Mathematical Research
- World-class research ... in the 10th grade (MIT News, October 2011)
- MIT PRIMES: Priming Talented Teens ( Integral 2011, MIT Math Department Newsletter)
- National Math Prize Winner Fell in Love with the Subject at MIT—During High School ( MIT Continuum , March 26, 2015)
- Mathematical Research in High School: The PRIMES Experience ( Notices of the American Mathematical Society 62:8 (September 2015))
- 2020 Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department ( Notices of the American Mathematical Society 67:5 (May 2020))
- Mathematics department recognized for STEM student enrichment program (MIT News, May 2020)
- Eleven years and counting with MIT PRIMES (Science@MIT Newsletter, January 2022)
- MIT PRIMES = A Plus for Youth: Math program mentoring helps high schoolers advance in research (MIT Spectrum, Spring 2022)