Mathletics Team Hopes to Add to Success in Putnam Competition

The Hamilton Mathletics Team took part in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition on Dec. 2. The competition took the form of a six-hour written exam, which the team had trained for throughout the fall semester.

Coached by Associate Professor of Mathematics Andrew Dykstra, the team consisted of 15 students: Omar Beesley ’20, Luke Cechura ’19, Alex Dennis ’18, Lindsay Gearty ’21, Chengqi  (Sophia) Guo ’20, Benjamin Oltsik ’19, Benjamin Parfitt ’19, Jafar Sharipov ’21, Nathan Sobel ’19, Ryan Tamburrino ’19, Samuel Vigneault ’21, Jinghong (Sophia) Wang ’19, Spencer Woolfson ’20, Haoxiang (Mike) Yang ’18,  and Chenchen Zhao ’19.

Established in 1938, the competition is administered by the Mathematical Association of America. As they are every year, the 12 problems on this year’s Putnam exam were some of the most challenging undergraduate mathematics problems imaginable. 

The exam is so challenging that, in a typical year, the national median individual score is zero out of 120 points possible.

Despite these odds, Hamilton’s team has had impressive showings in recent years. For the 2016 exam, the Hamilton team earned a national rank of #88 (out of all colleges and universities in the U.S .and Canada) on the Putnam exam. For the last two years, the team won first place in the Snow Bowl competition, a friendly competition with Colgate, Skidmore, and St. Lawrence for which each school tallies their top scores on the Putnam to determine the winner.

Results from this year’s Putnam competition won’t be known until March but Dykstra said he is confident that the team will post another strong result.

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