Harvey Mudd College repeated as the top-scoring undergraduate institution in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the preeminent undergraduate mathematics competition.
Twenty-five HMC students spent the better part of Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 taking this notoriously difficult six-hour exam, which requires a unique blend of cleverness and problem-solving skills. The median score for the competition, in which 4,638 students from the U.S. and Canada participated, was 1 out of a possible 120. The highest score on the six-hour exam was 89 out of a possible 120 points. Only 20 percent of participants earned a score above 13; the median score for Harvey Mudd students was 25.
In team competition, veteran Putnam competitors Adam Busis ’19, Jordan Haack ’19 and Shyan Akmal ’19 placed an impressive ninth out of 575 institutions, and Harvey Mudd was the top scoring undergraduate institution.
In the individual category, Busis ranked 28th in the nation, Evan Liang ’20 ranked 39th and Mengyi Shan ’21 ranked 93.5th; each received honorable mentions. Two other Harvey Mudd students, Akmal and ZiYang Zhang ’19, scored in the top 200.
“We are proud of all the students who sacrificed their time and energies to represent Harvey Mudd in this year’s Putnam competition,” says Mohamed Omar, professor of mathematics and Putnam Seminar co-coach (along with Professor of Mathematics Nicholas Pippenger). “These students who enjoy problem-solving represent a cross-section of majors at the College.”
Elizabeth Lowell Putnam founded the event in 1927 in memory of her husband, William Lowell Putnam, a Harvard graduate and advocate of intercollegiate intellectual competition. Administered by the Mathematical Association of America, the six-hour exam, composed of 12 problems worth 10 points each, has been offered annually since 1938 to regularly enrolled undergraduates in the United States and Canada who have not yet received a college degree. Harvey Mudd students first participated in the Putnam competition on Dec. 2, 1961. In 1991, the Harvey Mudd team earned third place.