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Learning to Love Math

Nabil Hassein, Sidony O'Neal
July 18, 2022 to August 22, 2022 (6 classes)
Mondays, 6:30-9:30pm ET
Online (Zoom)
$840 Scholarships available learn more...
Applications closed on June 5, 2022

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In this workshop, participants will study both the history of math -- including some connections to computing, ecology, politics, religion, ethics, and literature -- and practices of learning/ using/ creating math. Topics certain for at least brief discussion with everyone include a whirlwind survey of mathematics in a few pre-colonial societies and in the contemporary field, varieties of infinity, math education, logic, cultural and linguistic specificity of mathematics, number theory, music theory, category theory, and programming language theory. Possible topics for discussion with everyone or in smaller groups according to participant interest include greater elaboration of the previously named topics, and other branches of mathematics or closely linked fields such as knots and functions; rings; geometry processing; aesthetic math; information theory; graph/network theory, order theory, Ramsey theory, approximation theory, geometry, and fractals; cryptography; computational complexity. There will be no assumption of mathematics knowledge more advanced than a vague recollection of middle/high school algebra, nor unrealistic expectations of building expertise in little more than a month's time; the intention for the short course is to build interest in and appreciation for a diverse and beautiful subject too often uglified by elitism, prejudice, and excessive rigidity. Infinity image by Matt Jacobson

Course of Study

  • Week 1 (7/18): History of mathematics + pedagogies and classroom experiences
  • Week 2 (7/25): Intro to Number theory -> Music Theory
  • Week 3 (8/1): Intro to Category theory -> programming language theory
  • Week 4 (8/8): Games (strategy, probability/chance vs deterministic)
  • Weeks 5-6 (8/15 & 8/22): Student choice. Possibilities: knots and functions; rings; geometry processing; aesthetic math; information theory; graph/network theory, order theory, Ramsey theory, approximation theory, geometry, and fractals; cryptography; computational complexity


There will be no assumption of mathematics knowledge more advanced than a vague recollection of middle/high school algebra, nor unrealistic expectations of building expertise in little more than a month's time.

Students will have a choice of possible homework activities to prepare for each class. While no single form of work is required, students should expect to spend at least as much time outside of class meetings as in them (i.e. 3+ hours per week) on readings, videos, problem sets, games, music, or other activities. The course is not project-based, but instructors will be available (e.g. during office hours) for help with student projects if desired.

Is this class for me?

Engagement with challenging material is a fundamental part of doing math, so all students should expect to face difficulties while working alone and together to build new connections, intuitions, and understandings. Prior expertise in math is not required; however, based on experience, some students may struggle more than others with certain concepts or activities. Gentleness (with others and themselves) will be an important quality for students to cultivate in order to best realize improved relationships with math and its communities.

Meet the Teachers


Nabil Hassein

Nabil Hassein is a technologist, researcher, and educator who previously worked as a high school math teacher, a software developer, and a freelancer, and is currently a PhD candidate in New York University's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, writing a dissertation on Arabic-based programming languages and their associated communities. Nabil is an alum of SFPC's previous full time program, and has previously worked for SFPC as a teaching assistant in the critical theory of technology course and co-organizer of Code Ecologies and Mathematics as a Religious Experience, besides previous iterations teaching Learning to Love Mathematics.

they/them, he/him · website


Sidony O'Neal

sidony o’neal is a conceptual artist and writer with a focus on postdigital and synthetic methods for the development of works. Engaging philosophies of translation, mathematics, and computing, o’neal’s approach prioritizes research, intuition, and interface among many types of objects and environments. o’neal’s work has been presented with Veronica, SculptureCenter, and Fourteen30 Contemporary. Performances as a part of non-band DT have been presented with Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Volksbühne Berlin, and Performance Space New York. o’neal is a co-founder of INFANT design company. o’neal’s writing has been published at Arts.Black and the journal of Women & Performance among others. o’neal is the author of the chapbook LYFE IN A BOTTLE TREE BOTTLE (House House Press, 2020). o’neal is a 2022-2023 Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University.

they/them/any/none · instagram


Our programs are conducted in spoken English with audiovisual materials such as slides, code examples and video. Online programs are held over Zoom.

Please take care and be well. We hope you are comfortable in your housing, living, and working situation in general. Never hesitate to ask us for advice and reach out if you have accessibility requests or need any assistance during your time at SFPC. We will work closely with you towards co-creating the most accommodating learning environment for your needs.

reach out with questions about access...

How do I apply?

Apply Now

How has math shown up in your past? Where do you hope to be with math in the future, in terms of intersections or new experiences?

Applications open until Applications closed on June 5, 2022.

You can expect to hear back from us about the status of your application on June 20, 2022. Please email us at with any questions you have.

more about what we look for in participants...

How much does it cost to attend?

For 6 classes, it costs $840 + processing fees, for a one-time payment. We also offer payment plans. Participants can schedule weekly or monthly payments of the same amount. First and last payments must be made before the start and end of class. *Processing fees apply for each payment.

SFPC processes all payments via Withfriends and Stripe. Please email if these payment options don't work for you.

Upon payment, your space in the class will be reserved. We offer scholarships for those who cannot pay full tuition. Read more about scholarships below.

I can’t pay for SFPC. Can I come at a reduced rate, or for free?

If you can’t pay full tuition, we really still want you to apply. Our application will ask you how much you can pay. We will offer subsidized positions in all of our classes, once each one has enough participants enrolled that we’re able to do so.

We have also started a scholarship fund, and we will be offering additional scholarships as community members redistribute their wealth through SFPC. We direct scholarship funds towards participants who are low-income, Black, Indigenous, racialized, gendered, disabled, Queer, trans, oppressed, historicially excluded and underrepresented.

Right now, tuition is SFPC’s main source of income, and that is a problem. It means that we can only pay teachers, pay for space, and organize programs when participants pay full tuition to attend. Tuition is a huge barrier to entry into the SFPC community, and it disproportionately limits Black participants, indigenous participants, queer and trans participants, and other people who are marginalized, from participating. Scholarships are not a long term solution for us, but in the short and medium term we hope to offer them more while we work towards transforming SFPC’s financial model.

How can I help others to attend SFPC?

For SFPC to be the kind of place the community has always meant it to be, it needs to become a platform for wealth redistribution. If you are a former participant, prospective participant, or friend of the school, and you have the financial privilege to do so, please donate generously. There is enough wealth in this community to make sure no one is ever rejected because of their inability to pay, and becoming that school will make SFPC the impactful, imaginative, transformative center of poetry and justice that we know it can be.

What if I can’t go, can I get a refund?

  • Yes, we can give you 100% refund up to 10 days before class starts
  • 50% refund after 10 days, until the first day of the class
  • No refunds can be given after the first day of the class

Interested in more learning opportunities at the School for Poetic Computation? Join our newsletter to stay up to date on future sessions and events, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Support our programming through scholarships. Get in touch over email.