Q: Which students can participate in the program?
A: The program is mainly targeted towards high school students, but we do have some college students as well. Any student who is in high school (finished grade 9 by the time the program begins) can apply. In some exceptional cases, we have admitted some younger students, but that is rare.
Q: Where does the program take place?
A: Princeton University, Computer Science Building (35 Olden Street, Princeton NJ)
Q: Will the university provide accommodations for the students?
A: No. The program does not have any ability to provide accommodations for students. Some of our past participants have come from far away places like China, India, UK, S. Korea, Arizona, California, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. They have found a friend/relative to stay with, or a parent has accompanied them and they have found accommodations nearby on their own. Note that students who are minors (under the age of 18 years) must stay with a parent or must stay with an adult whom the parents of the participant have authorized to be the legal guardian of the participant for the duration of the program.
Q: How can students commute to the program?
A: For those living in North Jersey, commuting via NJ Transit’s North East Corridor Line is probably the best option. There are many trains that travel from New York to Princeton Junction in the morning. Upon arriving at Princeton Junction, students can take the Princeton dinky or a substitute bus to arrive at Princeton Station, which is on campus. It is then a roughly twenty-minute walk to 35 Olden Street.
Q: For students who drive where can they park?
A: There is visitor parking in lot 21 (off faculty road). There is a shuttle service that one can use or one can walk (about a 5-10 minute walk to the CS building). The C- East Commuter shuttle will drop you off right in front of the CS building. The shuttle comes about every 20 mins. There is an app called “rider” you can use to track the shuttles as well. Directions can be found on the Princeton website. There may also some free parking available on Maple street off Nassau (5-minute walk from the CS building), but I am told that one needs to get in early to find a parking spot.
Q: Will lunch be provided?
A: No. Students may bring their own lunch, or purchase lunch at the Frist Campus Center.
Q: How much mathematics or computer science are applicants expected to know?
A: A good understanding of Algebra 1 (or the equivalent) is all that is required. Those who wish to attend should be able to cope with a heavy work load.
Q: Will there be any programming in the course?
A: No. Theoretical concepts are the main subject of study. Laptops are unnecessary for the duration of the program.
Q: Will a textbook be used in the course?
A: For the most part, lecture notes will be handed out. Towards the end, students may begin learning Algorithms and will be using Algorithm Design, by Jon Kleinberg and Éva Tardos. Students will need to obtain this textbook on their own.
Q: What type of work will students do?
A: Typically, a 2-3 hour lecture will be given in the morning . During the afternoons, students have time to work on assigned homework (which is given at the end of each lecture) either independently or cooperatively with other students. These problem sets get increasingly difficult, but students who have finished all assigned work should talk to Dr. Gandhi. Also, guest lecturers will give talks on specific areas of theoretical computer science later on in the course.
Q: Do students have to be present on days when there are no lectures?
A: Yes. The students will have plenty of work to do and we expect them to come to the program venue and work on assigned problem sets. In the rare event that they are done with all of the assigned work, they should talk to Dr. Gandhi and he will assign them more work. Note that failure to not attend each day of the program (unless prior approval is taken from Dr. Gandhi) may result in termination of the student’s participation in the program.
Q: What should applicants expect from this program?
A: Applicants should expect to work hard in this program. Students will be expected to master all the concepts that are taught to them. They must also work diligently on their problem sets. The main goal of any applicant to this program should be to have a desire to learn more about the world of mathematics and computer science. If you are looking for a more relaxed setting, this program may not be the right option for you.
Q: Do the students have to bring laptops?
A: No. We strongly discourage students from bringing electronic gadgets to the program. If they bring them then they should not use them during the program hours. We hold the right to confiscate electronic gadgets (and not return them), including cell phones if they are used during the program hours.
Q: How much does the program cost to a student?
A: The fee for PACT’20 summer program is $1500. We do have limited scholarships available that will be used to support as many students as possible who are admitted but have financial constraints. Students will have to submit justification when requesting financial support.
Q: How is Princeton University involved in this program?
A: Princeton University is in no way involved with this program except that it rents out space to PACT.
Q: Can I ask additional questions?
A: Yes, of course, but do not send an email to anyone at Princeton! Submit feedback using the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.