MIT wins 83rd Putnam Mathematical Competition, sweeps top five spots

The MIT math dynasty continues to interrupt information for its efficiency within the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. For the third yr in a row, MIT college students corralled all 5 of the highest Putnam Fellow spots, and for the fourth time in as a few years, received the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize for the top-scoring lady. In whole, a putting 70 out of this yr’s prime 100 test-takers had been MIT college students, together with 21 of the highest 25.

In its 83rd yr, the Putnam Competitors is the premier mathematical competitors for undergraduate college students in the US and Canada and is run by the Mathematical Affiliation of America (MAA). The extraordinary six-hour examination, which options 12 proof-based math issues, was taken by 3,415 college students from 456 establishments on Dec. 3, 2022. Outcomes had been announced last week.

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High honors

This yr’s Putnam Fellows are first-years Papon Lapate and Luke Robitaille, second-year Brian Liu, junior Mingyang Deng, and senior Daniel Zhu. Every Putnam Fellow is awarded $2,500. Zhu has positioned as a fellow yearly that he has competed within the examination.

The 2022 Putnam Group from MIT is (in alphabetical order) Deng, Robitaille, and Zhu. Groups are composed of the three prime scorers from every collaborating establishment. That is the MIT workforce’s seventh first-place win prior to now 9 competitions. This yr, Harvard College got here in second, and Stanford College third. The MIT Division of Arithmetic is awarded $25,000 for being the highest workforce, and every workforce member is awarded $1,000. 

Junior Binwei Yan, who completed within the prime 16, obtained the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize, which features a $1,000 award. She is the sixth MIT pupil to obtain this honor for the reason that award started in 1992, and the fourth in a row for MIT.

MIT college students additionally dominated the remainder of the scoreboard: 9 of the following 11 (every awarded $1,000), seven of the following 9 (every awarded $250), and 49 of the 75 honorable point out rankings. 

Of test-takers ranked 101-200, there have been 28 MIT college students, and from 201-500, 47 had been from MIT. In whole, 145 MIT college students positioned within the prime 500.

“Our college students’ excellent efficiency on the Putnam is a testomony to their dedication and exhausting work,” says Yufei Zhao, affiliate professor of arithmetic, who prepares a gaggle of first-year college students for the competitors by means of his Putnam Seminar. “The outcomes of the Putnam are a supply of delight for our establishment and a mirrored image of the distinctive expertise of our college students.”

This yr, about 180 MIT college students took the examination, which consists of 12 issues value 10 factors every. The highest rating was 101 out of 120 factors, however the common rating was roughly 8.2; the median rating was one. 

“For all those that didn’t carry out as they hoped, please keep in mind Pierre de Coubertin’s quote: ‘Crucial factor just isn’t profitable however collaborating!,’” says math division head Michel Goemans, the RSA Professor of Arithmetic.

A full listing of the rankings and names of the scholars could be discovered on the Putnam website.

Putnam alumni

About half of the highest scorers are alumni of the MIT Math PRIMES (Program for Analysis in Arithmetic, Engineering and Science) highschool outreach program. This listing consists of Liu, Robitaille, and Zhu, 5 of the following prime 11, and three out of the following 9 winners, together with most of the college students receiving honorable mentions.

“Yearly, I see acquainted names of former PRIMES college students amongst Putnam winners,” says Pavel Etingof, a math professor who can be PRIMES’ chief analysis advisor. “For the second yr in a row, three out of 5 Putnam Fellows are PRIMES alumni, all of them from MIT. PRIMES actually serves as a pipeline of mathematical expertise for MIT!”

Within the historical past of the Putnam Competitors, solely eight college students have turn out to be Putnam Fellows all 4 years that they’ve participated, together with three from MIT and a Harvard pupil who’s now a math professor at MIT, Bjorn Poonen. Solely 24 different college students within the contest’s historical past are three-time Putnam Fellows; Zhu joins six different former MIT college students, together with Zhao ’10, PhD ’15, who earned this honor. (Zhu was ineligible to strive for 4, as a result of pandemic’s pause on the 2020 competitors.)

Different MIT math professors who had been Putnam Fellows embrace Davesh Maulik, Peter Shor, and David Vogan PhD ’76. One of many contributors to the competitors’s issues included former Putnam coach and MIT math emeritus professor Richard Stanley, the founding father of MIT’s Putnam Seminar.

MIT’s 2019 prime scorers made Putnam historical past when all 5 Putnam Fellows had been from one establishment for the primary time. The competitors was based in 1927 by Elizabeth Lowell Putnam in reminiscence of her husband William Lowell Putnam and has been supplied yearly since 1938, administered by the MMA.

“Irrespective of how effectively a pupil performs within the competitors, the expertise of partaking intensely with difficult issues develops the scholar’s mathematical energy and creativity,” says Putnam Mathematical Competitors Director Daniel Ullman. “Kudos to each participant!”

Provides MAA Govt Director Michael Pearson, “The way forward for arithmetic is brilliant due to these college students, and we stay up for their continued success.”


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