Saturday, December 5, 2009


Mathematics competitions are, almost as a matter of necessity, a question of speed rather than of strength: of quickness, not endurance.  However, while this is still somewhat true of the one today, this one is also more than about how fast one can answer the questions, how many quick answers you can come up with.
The questions often have a reasonably simple solution, but it is rarely immediately obvious.  There are two six-question, three hour papers, worth a total of 120 points.  Of the students who take the exam across the nation, typically about half of them get zero.  And these are among the very best students at their institutions.
One of my students yesterday remarked at the end that this was the mathematics equivalent of running a marathon.  All of them looked completely drained by the end, but I don't think that a single one of them regretted getting involved.
This makes me happy:-)

Yours, done with the competition until next September rolls around,

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