Math Discovery Lab (Math 101) is a discovery-based project course in mathematics at Stanford University created by Professor Thomas Church. MDL is currently being taught in Winter 2018.

In Math Discovery Lab, students work independently in groups of 3 to explore open-ended mathematical problems and **discover original mathematics**. Students formulate conjectures and hypotheses; test predictions by computation, simulation, or pure thought; and present their results to classmates. There is no lecture component, other than some introductory workshops in the first few weeks; in-class meetings will be used for group meetings and for student presentations (attendance at these presentations is required).

The three main components of the course are **two 5-week projects**, each culminating in a **written Project Report**, and **one in-class presentation** on your findings (either from the first or second project). These three components contribute equally to the grade (30% each); the remaining 10% is based on in-class participation and comments on other groups' presentations.

- Number squares (games)
- The shape of stones (simulation / modeling)
- Floating bodies (analysis)
- Decimal expansions (algebra)

*Groups assigned: before first course meeting**Project 1 topic requests: Tuesday of 1st week**Project 1 topics assigned: Wednesday of 1st week*- Project Report 1 first draft: due Friday of 4th week
- Project Report 1 debriefings: Monday–Wednesday of 5th week
- Project Report 1 final report: due Wednesday of 6th week
*Project 2 topic requests: Thursday of 4th week**Project 2 topics assigned: Wednesday of 5th week*- Project Report 2 first draft: due Friday of 8th week
- Project Report 2 debriefings: Monday–Wednesday of 9th week
- Project Report 2 final report: due Wednesday of 10th week
- In-class presentations: Fridays of weeks 4–10

Q: Do I have to be a math major to take Math Discovery Lab?

A: No. The point of MDL is to discover mathematics that is **new to you**; in some sense,
the less you know, the easier this is! To benefit from MDL you will need some past exposure
to mathematical thinking, but this could come from many places, including courses in other
departments and experiences outside school. For example, many projects (such as Sample
Project #2 above) are helped by a teammate with experience in coding or simulation.

Q: Is this undergraduate math research?

A: Not really. We have no expectation that your group will prove theorems previously
unknown to the world; the goal is to discover mathematics previously unknown *to you*.
So MDL is quite different from a typical undergraduate REU in mathematics. But this is a
feature, not a bug: it means that you can tackle problems immediately, without months or years of preparation.

Q: I'm a freshman. Can I take MDL this year?

A: In general, most freshmen will do better to wait and take Math Discovery Lab in a later year. In particular, we don't recommend MDL for freshmen in the Math 41 or Math 51 series. But there have certainly been exceptional freshmen who succeeded in MDL. If you're a freshman, the application gives you a chance to list your past experience in math.