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Cornell startup offers AI-powered math help

One TikTok video that went viral confirmed to Nour Gajial ’26 and Yanni Kouloumbis ’26 that they were on to something with MathGPT.

In the TikTok, Gajial introduces their math learning platform by asking viewers to “imagine if Chegg and ChatGPT had a baby.” She then shows how students can take a screenshot of their math problem, upload it to MathGPT and receive “an instant solution with very clear steps.” Gajial’s TikTok reached more than 1.5 million people and was shared by more than 60,000 students..

Gajial and Kouloumbis said they created MathGPT to help high school and college students struggling with math understand how to approach their math problems step by step. Through clear explanations, MathGPT aims to create a strong foundation for each student’s conceptual understanding. 

“The main goal of the platform is not to get a solution, that’s almost trivial,” Kouloumbis said. “We want students to gain a broad understanding of math when they use our site. We want to be the one place where students come when they have a math problem.”

Beyond  explaining the solution of the math problem, the site’s chat area acts like a math tutor, giving students practice problems like the one they just solved.

Gajial and Kouloumbis, both computer science majors in the College of Engineering, said they had lots of experience with large language models (LLMs), even before the emergence of ChatGPT.

“Conventional wisdom then was that these models couldn’t do math well, but GPT-4 actually does pretty well or at least points you in the right direction,” Kouloumbis said. But still, GPT-4 doesn’t show the steps it took to get the solution and it’s not always accurate, Gajial said.

To make their platform accurate, they’ve included custom prompts and an augmented retrieval technique that leverages thousands of problems and uses  “few-shot learning.” a machine learning technique that allows AI models to learn from labeled training data. They’ve also come up with a way to help the LLM understand the LaTeX math symbols (those pesky Greek letters, less than and greater than symbols, etc.) in a problem and then also use them in the answer. 

To spread the word about MathGPT, the cofounders have used their TikTok (which now has nearly 1,800 followers)and spent time on math servers in the social platform Discord, where they showed students how easy it was to find help on MathGPT.

“These Discord servers had tens of thousands of people who provided math help, but it was all manual,” Kouloumbis said, so he and Gajial showed users the automatic way that MathGPT could help solve the same problems.

Gajial and Kouloumbis have felt supported by various entrepreneurship organizations on campus. They consistently attend Thursday evening Startup Hours hosted by Life Changing Labs, where they said they’ve met many other student founders. They also received a Beck Fellowship and Canaan Fellowship to work on their business. And they’ve been supported by Nancy Almann at Blackstone LaunchPad at Cornell, who has connected them to alumni and encouraged them to make strategic hires for their team.

This summer, they’re working to build out other areas on their site, which offer help with physics, statistics and accounting. And they’re creating AI-generated videos to go along with their solutions, allowing students to watch on-demand videos about their problem.

So far, more than 3.5 million problems have been submitted to the platform, and 385,000 people have made an account  with MathGPT, which includes daily free help. Users can access unlimited math help by buying a subscription. 

“We want to give you all the resources you need to solve problems and understand how they work,” Gajial said. “We want students to feel confident and help as many people as possible.”

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