# St. Bonaventure University

# Math Contests for SBU Students

Three mathematics competitions are available to St. Bonaventure students: the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition, the University of Rochester Mathematical Olympiad, and the Mathematical Content in Modeling.

## William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition

The *William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition*, known more briefly as the *Putnam Exam* or the *Putnam*, is an annual mathematics competition open to undergraduates in the United States and Canada.

The Putnam is widely regarded as the most challenging undergraduate mathematics examination given in America. The exam is written to test both technical competence in undergraduate mathematics and problem-solving skills.

The Putnam is administered by the Mathematical Association of America, but each participating college or university gives the exam on its own campus. Participants take the exam individually.

The Putnam is given the first Saturday in December. It consists of twelve problems; six are given during the three-hour morning session (10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.) and six are given during the three-hour afternoon session (3:00 - 6:00 p.m.). The two sessions are separated by a two-hour break.

By tradition, Bona's Putnam participants are treated to lunch during the two-hour break at the Beef `N Barrel Restaurant, courtesy of the Department of Mathematics.

### Registration and Preparation for the Putnam

Students will be alerted in mathematics classes and by email when registration is open for the next Putnam Exam. Registration is free.

As a practical matter, a student should have taken MATH 152–Calculus II and MATH 207–Discrete Mathematics I before taking the Putnam Exam.

The Putnam is quite challenging. Solving just one of the twelve problems is a notable achievement. What makes a Putnam problem so challenging? It’s not so much the subject matter, which is taken from undergraduate mathematics, but the necessity of finding the right insight. The solution of a Putnam problem can be quite short, once one has the right insight.

MATH 281–The Problem Solving Seminar is offered during the fall semester and provides preparation for the Putnam Exam. In this one-credit course, techniques of mathematical problem-solving are studied and applied to a wide range of problems, including problems from previous Putnam Exams. The prerequisites for MATH 281 are MATH 152–Calculus II and MATH 207–Discrete Mathematics I.

- The official Putnam website contains a description of the Putnam, the history of the exam, the complete set of rules, and the most recent two exams.
- A collection of past Putnam exams and solutions, courtesy of Kiran Kedlaya of UCSD. The exams (1985 to present) and the solutions (1995 to present) are provided as PDF and TeX files.
- Another collection of past Putnam Exams, courtesy of Dr. Patrick J. Fitzsimmons of the University of California at San Diego. The collection includes exams from 1980 to 2010 as postscript, Adobe Acrobat, and dvi files.
- Free paper copies of several of the most recent Putnam Exams may be found in the "Resources" bookcase in the Mathematics Suite (De La Roche 301).

For more information or to register for the next Putnam, contact the Putnam supervisor for St. Bonaventure University, Dr. Chris Hill.

## University of Rochester Mathematical Olympiad

The *University of Rochester Mathematical Olympiad* (URMO) is an annual mathematics competition for undergraduates in Western New York. The URMO is organized by Dr. Dan-Andrei Geba of the University of Rochester. However, each participating college or university administers the contest on its own campus. Participants take the exam individually. The URMO occurs on a Saturday in February.

The University of Rochester Mathematical Olympiad was created to be a challenging competition, but friendlier than the Putnam Exam.

The URMO is a three-hour exam consisting of four problems. (By contrast, the Putnam is a six-hour exam consisting of twelve problems.) Two of the problems are below Putnam level and two are at Putnam level. Of the two problems at Putnam level, one is at the level of the first one or two problems on a Putnam exam and one is at the level of the middle Putnam problems. Like the Putnam, the URMO tests both technical competence in undergraduate mathematics and problem-solving skills.

Three prizes are awarded: first prize is $250, second prize is $200, and third prize is $150.

By tradition, Bona’s students who participate in the URMO will be treated to lunch at the Beef 'N Barrel Restaurant immediately after the contest, courtesy of the Department of Mathematics.

### Registration and Preparation for the URMO

Students will be alerted in mathematics classes and by email when the date of the next URMO is known. Registration is free.

As a practical matter, students should have taken MATH 152–Calculus II and MATH 207–Discrete Mathematics I before participating in the URMO.

MATH 281–The Problem-Solving Seminar is offered during the fall semester and prepares students to take the URMO. In this one-credit course, techniques of mathematical problem-solving are studied and applied to a wide range of problems, including problems from previous URMOs. The prerequisites for MATH 281 are MATH 152–Calculus II and MATH 207–Discrete Mathematics I.

- University of Rochester Math Olympiad page, in the University of Rochester's web site, lists the winners of past Olympiads and provides pdfs of past exams.
- Free paper copies of past URMOs may be found in the "Resources" bookcase in the Mathematics Suite (De La Roche 301).

For more information or to participate in the next URMO, contact Dr. Chris Hill.

## Mathematical Contest in Modeling

The *Mathematical Contest in Modeling* (MCM) is an annual contest, sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP), in which undergraduates at colleges and universities all over the world are asked to develop and analyze mathematical models for open-ended practical problems.

Students work in teams of up to three. A team chooses exactly one of three problems (A, B, or C) to solve. Participants are allowed to use computers, websites, books, and any other inanimate sources of knowledge.

Solutions are judged as Unsuccessful Participant, Successful Participant, Honorable Mention, Meritorious, Finalist, or Outstanding Winner. Several awards and prizes are available to high-quality solutions.

The MCM is held early in February. In order to participate, a team of students must be registered by a faculty adviser. For complete instructions for the contest, see the MCM website.