ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

Research Behind ALEKS

ALEKS stands for "Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces."  The research behind ALEKS is briefly discussed in non-technical terms in "The Assessment of Knowledge in Theory and in Practice(PDF PDF). A brief video is also available.

ALEKS is the practical realization of Knowledge Space Theory – the result of ground-breaking research in mathematical cognitive science initiated by Professor Jean-Claude Falmagne at New York University (NYU) and the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Professor Jean-Paul Doignon at the University of Brussels. The core mathematical theory was created between 1983 and 1992 with the financial support of several National Science Foundation (NSF) grants to Falmagne at NYU and UCI.  (Learn more about the National Science Foundation at

National Science Foundation

Knowledge Space Theory is authoritatively set forth in Falmagne and Doignon’s monograph, Knowledge Spaces, published by Springer in 1999. A brief list of key scientific research publications is available. 

Other scientists joined the efforts to investigate Knowledge Space Theory, and currently more than three hundred scientific papers and several books have been published on this subject. A bibliographical database is maintained by Cord Hockemeyer at the University of Graz in Austria:

In 1992, Professor Falmagne obtained a large NSF grant for the development of the ALEKS educational software based on Knowledge Space Theory. To this end, he assembled at UCI a team of software engineers, cognitive scientists and mathematicians. Among them, Nicolas Thiery, Eric Cosyn and Damien Lauly are current officers of ALEKS Corporation. The Corporation was founded in 1996 by Falmagne and key members of his development team to implement, maintain, and further develop the software on the internet and make it available to K-12 and college students. The ALEKS software has been granted by UCI to ALEKS Corporation under an exclusive, worldwide, perpetual license.

The complex educational software based on Knowledge Space Theory is capable of efficiently and accurately assessing knowledge in various disciplines, ranging from mathematics and the natural sciences to selected topics in business and the social sciences.

In contrast to standardized tests, which typically result in numerical measures of achievement or “aptitude”, the outcome of an ALEKS assessment consists in (i) the precise and comprehensive delineation of an individual’s competence in a subject in the form of his or her knowledge state describing all the types of problems mastered by that individual, and (ii) a comprehensive list of the topics the individual is ready to learn (referred to in Knowledge Space Theory as the outer fringe of that individual’s knowledge state).

ALEKS has been used by millions of students in more than 100 academic subjects ranging from elementary school mathematics to Precalculus at thousands of schools and other educational institutions throughout the world. ALEKS course products can be accessed on a free trial or on a subscription basis from the home page of this site.