Saturday, December 4, 2010


Every year, for the past decade, I've spent the first Saturday in December on campus, and today was no different. 
The reason for this is the Putnam math competition: a ridiculously hard contest, taken by the best few undergraduates at institutions around the country (and in Canada and a few other places).  Typically, the median score is near 0/120 -- that is, of those top undergraduates, about half of them fail to score any points.  That's how hard it is.
I'm pleased with my turnout this year: 13 students, more than I've ever had take it before: and of those, I hope that more than half will get positive score, meaning that we beat the median.
I had fun during the contest: I've never taken it myself (I wasn't aware of it as an undergrad, and here is no facility for anyone beyond that level to take it) but I think that I know how to do about 75% of the questions. It always makes me happy to figure things out in real time, without the pressure that the contestants are under....

Yours, hoping my students did well,

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