The Gelfand Correspondence Program in Mathematics (GCPM) is a correspondence program organized by I. Gelfand in 1990. GCPM is administered by faculty and staff at the Department of Mathematics of Rutgers University and is open to high school students all over the Unites States. While GCPM is based on experience from the Moscow Correspondence School, the GCPM program has been designed to be compatible with American education. GCPM has two co-directors: its founder I. Gelfand and Professor R. Wilson of Rutgers University.
I. Gelfand is well known both as a mathematician and as a teacher of mathematics and has won many honors over the years. He can successfully explain mathematical concepts to students of different levels and abilities and increase their interest in mathematics as well. Former students from Professor Gelfand's Seminar now hold faculty positions at some of the world's outstanding universities (e.g. Harvard, Brown, Berkeley) and, during the last thirty years more than 70, 000 students have graduated from the Moscow Correspondence School which he established. When dealing with students I. Gelfand is guided by his motto: "Students have no shortcomings, they have only peculiarities. The job of a teacher is to turn these peculiarities into advantages".
R. Wilson, who joined the faculty of Rutgers University in 1971, is an outstanding mathematician and who has won awards for both his research and his teaching. He has trained and inspired many successful graduate students. A typical undergraduate student's comment is: "Professor Wilson has really made me want to go with mathematics. He is one of the most interesting and knowledgeable teachers I have had in my whole life".
Participation in GCPM will be valuable for students intending to continue the study of mathematics or of mathematically based sciences. Furthermore, the goal of GCPM is not just the education of future scientists. We believe that besides the direct mathematical knowledge, the experience of participation in the program will enhance a student's intellectual abilities and will be useful for a student no matter what career he or she will choose later. I. Gelfand says:" The most important thing a student can get from the study of mathematics is the attainment of a higher intellectual level. Mathematics, like poetry, is a part of human culture".
GCPM uses books specifically written for the program.
However, one has to keep in mind that GCPM is not only in the use of these books. I. Gelfand and T. Alekseyevskaya have created assignments, available only for GCPM students. Since learning mathematics requires active participation of the student, all instructional programs in mathematics emphasize students' solution of problems. The assignments for GCPM have been carefully prepared to present clearly the concepts of mathematics and to encourage students to use these concepts in creative ways to solve interesting problems. Here is one of the comments from students of GCPM: "In your assignments everything is explained very well, so I understand it fully. I discovered that once you understand the material, it's actually very interesting."
For many students the most important component of GCPM is interaction with the mentors who read and comment upon their work on assignments. Another student's comment: " I like getting feedback, not just a right or wrong mark."