Combinatorics and Algorithms for Real Problems

FAQ (Frequencly Asked Questions - and their answers!)

  • Q: What is the most common mistake applicant make?

  • A: The statement of purpose should mostly be about which projects they want to work on, why they are interested, and why they are qualified. Stuff about their life experiences is okay but should not be the main focus.

  • Q: What is the stipend, housing, food, travel situation?

  • A: $6000 stipend, free housing in dorms, Food money, and travel will be reimbursed.

  • Q: I am a non-citizen. Am I eligible to apply?

  • A: The NSF which funds most of our students cannot be used for non-citizens. However, we may have other money around that can be so used. In addition some schools (yours perhaps?) have grants for this purpose where they would pay the stipend. We can often come up with money for the housing. In your statement of purpose explain your situtation as well as telling us about the projects you want to work on, etc. In ANY case you getting a degree at a school in AMERICA.

  • Q: You day you require a course in X (say Algorithms). I have not had such a course but I have done Y (say been in programming contests). Can I apply?

  • A: Yes. In your statement of purpose you can tell us your situation. We may decide that you are qualified, or we may decide you are not, but its certainly fine to apply.

  • Q: Is it okay if I apply and get in to turn you down?

  • A: Yes! If we accept you we will give you a date you must decide by (which can be extended). It is fine to say NO, its if fine to say YES, its bad to not respond at all. Also, if you decide you are not coming before we decide on your fate please let us know that as well.

  • Q: Another program has accepted you and I still do not know about your program. What do I do?

  • A: Email me ( and I may give you an early decision. Note that it might be no.

  • Q: Is the program hard to get into?

  • A: Yes. In 2021 we got around 200 applicants for 19 positions. Hence we advice you to apply to other REU's as well. Do not ask me how many others to apply for; however, I would advise you to only apply to programs that you sincerely want to go to.

  • Q: Will the program be virtual in Summer 2022 (because of the pandemic)? If so then what do we need to know.

  • A: We do not know yet. If it is virtual then: (1) You MUST be in the United States to be in the program, (2) You still get your stipend, but (3) you do not get money for housing and food.

Our experience in Summer 2020 and 2021 is that the research aspect still works but the social aspect is not as good as in person.