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The 2021-22 Mathletics team, from left: Juniors Awildo Gutierrez, Qianzi Hou, David De Frutos Ostrander, Trevor Scheuing, Gabriana Rosario Guerrero, Brendan Magill, and team coach Associate Professor of Mathematics Andew Dykstra.
The Hamilton Mathletics Team took part in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition on Dec. 4. The Putnam is the preeminent math competition for undergraduates in the United States and Canada, and took the form of a six-hour written exam, which the team had trained for throughout the semester.
“We had a slightly smaller group than usual, but after last year [when the Putnam exam was canceled], it was great for the team to have the opportunity to get back out and give it a go this year,” said team coach and Associate Professor of Mathematics Andrew Dykstra.

This year’s team included Awildo Gutierrez ’23, Qianzi Hou ’23, David De Frutos Ostrander ’23, Trevor Scheuing ’23, Gabriana Rosario Guerrero ’23, and Brendan Magill ’23.

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 has had impressive showings. In 2016, the Hamilton team earned a national rank of #88 (out of all colleges and universities in the U.S .and Canada). In 2018 and 2019, the team won first place in the Snow Bowl, a friendly competition among Colgate, Skidmore, and St. Lawrence for which each school tallies its top scores on the Putnam to determine the winner.

“Since the competition wasn’t held in 2020, if we were to win again this year it would be a 3-peat,” Dykstra said. “However, winning multiple years in a row is challenging because for each year that a team wins, an additional 10-point handicap is added.” This year the Hamilton team has a 20-point handicap. 

Dykstra called the students who competed this year “very talented, and I expect the team to hold their own against the teams from Colgate, Skidmore, and St. Lawrence. In conversations with students after the exam, it sounded like [they] made excellent progress on the problems, despite how challenging they are. The results of the competition are usually revealed in late March, and I’ll be eager to see how the team does,” he said.

 

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