FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

"The PROMYS community was very welcoming and supportive. I won’t ever forget these people and the memories we had together. I will stay in touch and hope to make more memories together." Kalyani Gohokar, Mehta Fellow to PROMYS 2019

Here are some commonly asked questions about PROMYS India and some answers.

PROMYS India Community

How many people will be at PROMYS India?

In 2021, there will be over 45: Approximately 32 students and 8 counsellors plus faculty, research mentors, and visiting mathematicians. In 2022, it is intended that there be 48 students and 12 counsellors.

Who are the Mehta Fellows?

The Mehta Fellowship programme, which ran from 2015 through 2019, was the pilot programme for PROMYS India in which competitively selected pre-university students from across India were awarded fellowships to attend PROMYS at Boston University in the United States. Many of the Mehta Fellows attended for multiple summers and some returned as Mehta Counsellors. Many of the returning students and counsellors at PROMYS India will be former Mehta Fellows.

Who are the counsellors?

Counsellors are undergraduates studying mathematics at top universities. There will be counsellors who first participated as students. Many alumni will return to PROMYS India, often multiple times.

Are the faculty alumni too?

Professor Ila Varma, the Director of PROMYS India, attended PROMYS at Boston University when she was a secondary school student and returned as a counsellor when she was an undergraduate.

Professor Phil Engel was a student and a counselor at PROMYS when he was in secondary school and at university respectively. Dr. Aditya Karnataki was a counsellor at PROMYS for Teachers, PROMYS's teacher institute.

How old is the PROMYS India programme?

The global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 caused the launch of PROMYS India to be postponed from 2020 to 2021. 2021 will therefore be the first year of PROMYS India and the 33nd year of PROMYS. PROMYS, the parent programme of PROMYS India, has been running at Boston University in the U.S. since 1989. PROMYS India is the second offshoot PROMYS programme to be established. PROMYS Europe has been running at the University of Oxford in the U.K. since 2015.

The Maths

Will I learn "just" Number Theory at PROMYS India?

Absolutely not! Whatever your current level of maths experience, you will be exposed to a wide range of new mathematical knowledge and a deeper level of understanding. There will be seminars, courses, minicourses, lectures, research, and informal discussions on a wide range of maths-related topics and areas.

How many of the people at PROMYS India are actively engaged in doing maths over the summer?

Everyone (except the programme administrators who are very busy doing other stuff).

Who is there to help me with my maths?

Everyone. PROMYS India is collaborative, not competitive. It is all of us striving together to discover and to more deeply understand mathematics. There is also constantly available informal instruction and support: both small group and individual. Everyone struggles with the maths: that is what we are all at PROMYS India for. That is what makes it so hard, so fun, so worthwhile.

When do I get the solutions to the problems on the problem sets?

When you discover them for yourself. Returning students, counsellors, and faculty will support and encourage you, but not by giving you the answers (hint: they don't even give hints). What PROMYS India does is offer you the tools and structure to enable you to be a creative mathematician.

Residence Halls

Where will I live when I'm at PROMYS India?

You will live on the campus of Ashoka University in a men's or women's residence hall. The rooms are double-occupancy. There is a communal bathroom on each floor. Visit the Programme Details for Students page for more information.

I'm a girl; will my counsellor be a female too?

Yes, and your rooms are likely to be close together in a single gender residence hall.

Will I need a laptop at PROMYS India?

No, a computer is absolutely in no way needed for any students at PROMYS India. Expect to use up quite a few pens (or pencils) and a lot of paper! 

Why is PROMYS India so long?

Because participants need the time to immerse themselves in the mathematics, to address the fundamental issues we seek to address, and to reach a certain depth of mathematical understanding. 

Admissions Questions

Do I need to answer all the problems on the application problem set to have a chance of being accepted?

No. Our assessment of your mathematical readiness for PROMYS India is holistic, is certainly not determined by a count of problems solved, and takes into account multiple elements including your level of mathematical experience. But the application problems form the most significant portion of the application since your responses enable us to see how you reason and articulate mathematically and how creatively, enthusiastically, and tenaciously you tackle challenging problems.

Has everyone at PROMYS India been doing really advanced maths for years before they apply?

No. Some have and some haven't. What they all share is the desire and ability to think deeply about fundamental mathematical principles. The study of Number Theory lends itself particularly well to significant exploration by students from a wide range of mathematical backgrounds.

Will everyone at PROMYS India have won national or international mathematics competitions?

No. Some will have. Some will have participated in competitions but not necessarily done exceptionally well. Some won’t have participated in competitions. PROMYS India draws on, and develops, different mathematical skills and character attributes than are typically drawn on and developed by mathematics competitions.

I applied for a Mehta Fellowship to PROMYS in 2019 and was not selected. Does that mean I shouldn't apply to PROMYS India in 2021?

Absolutely not! First of all, only six new Mehta Fellowships were awarded in 2019 whereas there will be many more first-year student places in PROMYS India. Secondly, you will (we hope) have grown mathematically over the past two years. 

Please note that some of our most successful PROMYS participants were not accepted the first time they applied to the programme.

Is there a minimum age for attendance? Are graduating students in Standard XII or +2 eligible?

Students need to be at least 15 by the first day of the programme. Most students will be older. Yes, students may attend the summer after they graduate from higher secondary school. 

A student who is attending university is no longer eligible to attend PROMYS India as a student, though they may be eligible to apply to be a counsellor.

Does my letter of recommendation have to be from my current maths teacher?

The maths teacher who submits your teacher recommendation form does not have to be your current maths teacher in school. The recommendation may be submitted by any maths teacher/mentor (current or previous , though preferably one who has taught you fairly recently), not necessarily from your school.

Do some applicants get answers from websites or adults who want them to go to PROMYS India?

Unfortunately, they do. Such assistance is pretty transparent, and we will reject your application if we detect any unacknowledged assistance. PROMYS India is for students who want to spend a summer struggling with problems far more challenging than those on the application. If you don't enjoy the application problems or cannot make progress on them on your own, then this is not the right summer for you to attend PROMYS India. 

Miscellaneous Questions

What should I bring to the programme?

The things on the "what should I bring?" list that we'll send you. The list will recommend you bring casual clothing, comfortable shoes, paper, and pens/pencils. 

May I call home during PROMYS India? May my parents call me?

Of course (though your phone, if you have one, should be off during lectures). There's also email and post. And your parents can call the programme if they have a concern. We know that, for many of you, this will be your first extended time away from home.

I need to study for the IIT JEE during the summer. Will this be a problem?

Not if you study for the IIT JEE before or after PROMYS India. Our programme is only six weeks long, and it is designed to challenge you in ways many students will never have experienced before. You should not plan to devote any time to other studies during this period. 

My family will be going on holiday during the summer. Can I join them for the weekend?

We are glad the rest of your family will also be having summer fun, but a commitment to PROMYS India is for every day and night, from start to finish. While weekends are less scheduled than weekdays, they remain full of mathematics.

Can I participate in a music competition in June?

If you choose to participate in PROMYS India, you are committing to spending the six weeks at PROMYS India.

Why is PROMYS India so inflexible? Don't you understand the pressures and commitments in my life?

PROMYS India is different from any other programme you have attended. It's designed to push people to their limits. Much like research mathematics, it's impossible to “finish” your work at PROMYS India: there is always greater depth and insight to be attained. Of course, nobody can focus for literally every waking hour; but other serious commitments will detract from the PROMYS India experience, and we would rather work with students who are willing and able to take full advantage of it. Furthermore, PROMYS India moves very quickly, so catching up from even a single day's absence is difficult. In an emergency (such as illness), of course we’ll support you in your frantic efforts to catch up, but you should not plan to be absent.

How many PROMYS alumni become mathematicians and scientists? How many alumni attend prestigious universities for their undergraduate and graduate studies?

A very great many! See About Our Alumni (on the PROMYS Boston site) for more information.

What else will I do at PROMYS India besides maths?

While most of your time will be taken up doing maths, people do other things for fun at PROMYS India too. Counsellors usually organise weekly sports games, Frisbee games, and "mandatory fun." Some students like to take a break by running or playing a game of cards or chess. And of course there is a lot of socializing and the occasional dose of (totally well mannered) mayhem. But really, you'll mostly do maths.

How will I feel when PROMYS India is over for the summer?

We can’t know how you will feel at the end of the programme. But we do know that every year many students lament the end of PROMYS and express how deeply they miss the intense and joyful mathematical community created that summer. They have also shared that they need to catch up on sleep!

For most students, the mathematics and the friendships begun at PROMYS continue long long after they return home.

Will I receive a certificate for completing PROMYS India?

Yes, students will receive a certificate upon successful completion of PROMYS India.