About Prefresher

The Math Prefresher is an opportunity for incoming graduate students in the Harvard Government Department to refresh their knowledge of basic mathematical concepts and familiarize themselves with statisical programming. 

The mathematics topics discussed include basic function and set notation, derivative and integral calculus, probability, linear algebra, and optimization. Programming topics cover important uses of R and typesetting in LaTeX. The course requires no previous knowledge of programming, and we design the course so students of all levels learn something from participating. No grades are given. No attendence is taken. But almost every incoming student attends every year, regardless of background.

The math prefresher was originated in Harvard University’s Department of Government in 1994-95 by Gary King, who continues to organize it. The first two years were joint with MIT, with help from Steve Ansolabehere and Jim Snyder, then at MIT.  Shiro and Yon Soo taught the prefresher in the same department in 2018.  Each year,  senior  graduate students in the department serve as teachers: