Harvey Mudd Team Reaches Putnam Top 6

Harvey Mudd College improved upon last year’s team placement and maintained its position 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. 1, 2018 taking a challenging six-hour exam, which requires a unique blend of cleverness and problem-solving skills. The median score for the competition, in which 4,623 students from the U.S. and Canada participated, was 2 out of a possible 120. The median score for Harvey Mudd students was 10.

In team competition, veteran Putnam competitors Adam Busis ’19, Shyan Akmal ’19 and Xuming (Evan) Liang ’20 placed an impressive sixth out of 568 institutions, and Harvey Mudd was the top scoring undergraduate institution. Last year’s team of Busis, Akmal and Jordan Haack ’19 placed ninth.

In the individual category, Busis ranked 87th in the nation, and received an honorable mention. Three other Harvey Mudd students, Akmal, Liang and Mengyi Shan ’21, scored in the top 200.

“We are proud of all the students who sacrificed their time, talent 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.