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Frequently Asked Questions




Nerd pride!

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Americans were blatantly anti-intellectual. In other countries, people who used their brains were respected, even revered. But in America, these people were teased and mocked and called names -- such as egghead, geek, and nerd. In those benighted times, American nerds were ashamed. They tried to hide their nerdiness from other non-nerds. They were afraid to come 'out of the closet' and be themselves. But now all that has changed. The American economy has been transformed by computer technology, which is the province of nerds. The richest man in the world -- Bill Gates -- is a nerd. We nerds are no longer ashamed. In fact, we are proud. We celebrate our nerdiness. If you are a nerd, strike a blow for Nerd Pride right now. Stand up and shout it: "I'm a nerd, and I'm proud!"

What is MathNerds?

MathNerds is a non-profit corporation. MathNerds primary function is its free service providing hints, direction, references, or guidance (not necessarily answers) in many areas of mathematics. The MathNerds team members are unpaid volunteers whose only compensation for their efforts are the "Thank You" messages from our clients.

Why MathNerds?

Because we love mathematics.

When was MathNerds founded?

MathNerds was formed during the summer of 1999 by Valerio De Angelis and W. Ted Mahavier. MathNerds is an extension of The Math Doctor (not to be confused with Ask Dr. Math) which was started in 1996.

Who are the MathNerds?

The MathNerds volunteers are an ever expanding group of mathematicians (both academic and industrial), mathematics educators, and other bright minds from all over the world who volunteer some of their time each week to help people with their mathematical difficulties.

Why do I need to register to use MathNerds?

For years MathNerds provided our service without requiring clients to register. Unfortunately, the only way to protect the security of the system, the archive, the clients, and the volunteers was to require client logins. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Who can volunteer to be a MathNerd?

Anyone! Click volunteer to see if you have skills that match our needs. Most of our volunteers have PhDs in mathematics or mathematics education, but we also have high school and university students on our team.

Will MathNerds do my homework?

No, but we will help you with it. We have a strong commitment to inquiry-based education, teaching people to teach themselves. We do not contribute to the abuse of the internet via doing homework, take home tests, or school related projects. We desire to help our clients by providing guidance, references, and hints, not answers. In the words of E. M. Forster, “Spoon feeding, in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”

How does MathNerds work?

Volunteers have password-protected profiles enabling them to choose the weekly volume of questions that they receive in each category ranging from K-5 to graduate mathematics. Clients submit a question by category via on-line forms and the question is directed to a volunteer who has agreed to answer questions in that category and who has not met his or her weekly cap. Volunteers are not obligated to answer the questions they receive and unanswered questions are moved to a general queue where any team member may reply. We answer 97% of all questions within 16 hours.

How does MathNerds assign problems?

While unable to sleep at night for fear some poor student did not have any help with a troubling math question, the MathNerds team developed the algorithm. You can see an oversimplified sketch of our algorithm by viewing either our client flow chart or our volunteer flow chart.

How do I contact MathNerds?

Direct all e-mail (but not math questions) to MathNerds.

What do other people say about MathNerds?

Education World gives MathNerds an "A".

Woman's World Magazine, October 3, 2000, p. 36, says:

MathNerds.com is a service that helps kids who are having problems in any area of mathematics or are simply curious. The tutors, called "Team Members," are all unpaid volunteers who really love giving guidance, references and hints-- not answers. Their only compensation? "Thank You" message from the kids. If the needed information isn't already posted somewhere on the site, there's a place to type in a question. This works best when studying for an upcoming test: it can take up to 24 hours to receive your personal email reply.

References and links for MathNerds media appearances:

2008     "Nerd is the Word," Math Horizons, September 2008, pp. 28-29. (copyright (c) 2008, The Mathematical Association of America, used by permission)
2007     "Open House," CNN.com, November 3rd, 2007, 9:30 ET.
2007     "Nerds Form Internet Project," by Shayna Strang. The Breeze, February 19th, 2007.
2007     "Math Tag Team, City's Top 6th Graders Partner with JMU Students," by Heather Bowser. DNR Online, Tuesday, January 12th, 2007.
2005     "Log on for homework help," by Lauren Picker. Good Housekeeping, Volume 240, Number 5, May 2005, p. 103.
2004     "JMU Students to Become 'MathNerds'," Department of Mathematics & Statistics Newsletter of James Madison University, June 2004.
2003     "MathNerds.com helps with math questions," 2-minute TV news feature, Six This Morning, KFDM Channel 6 (Beaumont CBS), Friday October 10, 2003.
2003     "Math-E-matics: Overcoming the fear of math through the language of mathnerds.com," by Cathy Cashio. The North Texan of the University of North Texas, Volume 53, Number 1, Spring 2003, pp 19-21.
2002     "MathNerds Offers Discovery-Style Mathematics on the Web," by Valerio De Angelis, Paul Dawkins, W. Ted Mahavier, and Allen Stenger. FOCUS of the Mathematical Association of America, Volume 22, Number 2, February 2002, pp. 10-11.
2002     "Ask the MathNerds," Cardinal Cadence of Lamar University, Volume 31, Number 1, Fall 2002, p.13.
2002     "Your Mentor in Cyberspace is Standing By Now," by Jennifer Medina. New York Times, October 23, 2002, p. B11.
2000     "MathNerds," Woman's World, October 3, 2000, p. 36.
2000     "Online Homework Helpers," by Ann Quigley. Working Mother, September 2000.
2000     "Site Review: MathNerds," Education World, August 2000.
1998     "The Math Doctor," Acadiana Profile, 1998.

Who pays for MathNerds?

MathNerds depends on our sponsors to stay alive. We do not have a fundraising team or a business team. We really are a group of mathematicians providing a service by giving of our own time. The life of the site (and our service to students) depends on our volunteers and the charity of others.

Who gets paid at MathNerds?

No one gets paid to provide this unique service. In addition, we have recurring expenses (legal, programming, volunteer recruitment, ISP charges, etc.) that need to be paid in order to keep the web site running.

How can I help support MathNerds?

You can volunteer your time to help our clients with their questions.

You can download our flier and post it at your school.

You can also send a small contribution by Paypal to wtm@mathnerds.com.

You can become a MathNerds sponsor.

What about the legal stuff?

Click here to read the MathNerds legal policy.

What is your privacy policy?

Click here to read the MathNerds privacy policy.

Team members

Below are the volunteers who wish to be listed. Many more wish to remain anonymous. More than 891 people have volunteered for MathNerds since its inception, and more than 556 people are currently active.

  • Shay Ber - The Technion, Israel
  • Mehmet Fazil Coskun (mfc) - Black Sea Tech.Univ./ Mechanical Engineering Dpt.
  • Giorgi Dalakishvili - Tbilisi State University student
  • Paul Dawkins - Lamar University
  • Benjamin Dickman - Amherst College (student) (http://www.nataliedee.com/011606/nerds.jpg)
  • Briana Dincher - I.S.239 (Mark Twain for the Gifted and Talented)
  • Rafael Espericueta - Bakersfield College (http://www2.bc.cc.ca.us/resperic/)
  • Alex Flury - Stanford University (http://www.alexflury.com)
  • Anne Geraci - Various - Adjunct
  • Ron Hall - McGill University (http://)
  • Brian Harris - James Madison University
  • Ruth Hunter - Texas State University
  • Sara Itani - MIT (student)
  • Mario Jimenez - Southwest Airlines
  • Kristofer Jorgenson - Sul Ross State University
  • Chad Keever - Honeywell
  • Peter Kosinar - Comenius University
  • Josepher Li - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (student)
  • Yang Li - McGill (http://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~yli142/)
  • Ash Lightfoot - Canterbury University
  • David Lukens - Shimer College and School of the Art Institute of
  • W. Ted Mahavier - Lamar University (http://www.mathnerds.org/ted)
  • Marianna Mao - Mission San Jose High School
  • Rus May - Morehead State University
  • Mark Morse - Volunteer Tutor, Seattle Central Community College
  • CAMAH MULABAH - Strayer University
  • Caroline Murphree - Utah State University
  • Athira Nair - Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Techn
  • Vincent T Nguyen - Texas State Univ
  • Jerry Overmyer - University of Northern Colorado
  • Michael Pemberton - Maysville Community and Technical College (http://mikeype.dizzy.at)
  • Jose Antonio Perez - Hebrew University
  • Terry Price - Yukon Middle School (Lakeview) (http://teacherweb.com/OK/YukonLakeview/TerryPrice/t.aspx)
  • Antonio Quan - University of Nottingham
  • Larry Santoni - LandSHark, LLC
  • David Santos - Communty College of Philadelphia (http://faculty.ccp.edu/faculty/dsantos)
  • Daniil Shved - Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
  • Barry Smith - Univeristy of California, Irvine
  • cody thompson - Allegany College of Md.
  • Dorothy Torres - Math Teacher - Woodcliff Academy
  • Charles Turner - Lamar University
  • Nicole Villarreal - Texas State University
  • Jackie Vogel - Austin Peay State University
  • Hiroko Warshauer - Texas State University
  • Derek Winkler - University of Maryland, College Park
  • Erika Wyckoff - (1) University of Oregon, (2) University of Minnes


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