Mudders Impress at Putnam Competition

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Harvey Mudd College is once again the top-scoring undergraduate institution in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, considered one of the world’s most prestigious university-level mathematics competitions.

Thirty-three HMC students spent the better part of Saturday, Dec. 3, taking this notoriously difficult six-hour exam, which requires unique blend of cleverness and problem-solving skills. The median score for the competition, in which 4,164 students from the U.S. and Canada participated, was 1 out of a possible 120. The median score for Harvey Mudd students was 15.

In team competition, Adam Busis ’19, Jordan Haack ’19 and Abram Sanderson ’17 placed an impressive 8th out of 568 institutions, and Harvey Mudd was the top scoring undergraduate institution.

In the individual category, Busis ranked 65th in the nation, and ZiYang Zhang ’19 ranked 79th; both received honorable mentions. Four other Harvey Mudd students, Shyan Akmal ’19, Haack, Sanderson and Natchanon Suaysom ’18, scored in the top 200.

Lists of the top 10 teams and the top 100 individual contestants will be published in the American Mathematical Monthly along with the problems and their solutions.

“We are proud of all 33 students who sacrificed their time, talent, and energies to represent us in this year’s Putnam competition,” says Mohamed Omar, professor of mathematics and Putnam Seminar co-coach (along with Professor of Mathematics Francis Su). “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.