Image of Independent Activities Period Independent Activities Period
Class Materials from IAP’s Most Famous Class: “How To Gamble if You Will”, 1979–1993

From the earliest days of the Institute’s existence, MIT faculty recognized that extracurricular activities were vital to their students’ education. To that end, MIT has always encouraged as many projects as students could dream up. One of the most significant academic innovations at the Institute was the creation of the Independent Activities Period (IAP). Four weeks of unfettered exploration, experimentation, and education, IAP is held each January between the fall and spring semesters. Open to the entire MIT community, thousands of courses, lectures, seminars, and special events have been offered over the past 40 years, ranging from mystery hunts and poetry discussions to MATLAB® seminars and public-service projects. Some offerings have gained considerable public attention, including “Charm School,” the 6.270 robot competition, and an especially notorious seminar begun in 1979 that taught the rudiments of card counting. Fictionalized accounts of the MIT Blackjack Team— including two best-selling books and a feature motion picture—plus three television documentaries, multiple news accounts, and numerous commentaries have made “How To Gamble if You Will” IAP’s most famous course.

Class Materials from IAP’s Most Famous Class: “How To Gamble if You Will”
Loan courtesy of J. P. Massar

photo: MIT Museum Collections

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