April 11, 2011

Lafayette Places in Top 10 Percent in National Putnam Math Competition

Lafayette’s three-student team finished in the top 10 percent of schools participating nationally in the 2010-11 William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition.

The College placed 34th out of 442 teams. California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University were this year’s top finishers. This is now the ninth year out of the last 11 that a Lafayette team has finished in the top 15 percent, including two top five percent finishes in 2002 and 2008.

“Four of the past five years, we’ve been among the top 35 teams in North America,” says faculty adviser Derek Smith, associate professor of mathematics. “This puts us among the top few liberal arts colleges in the nation.”

The six-hour exam consists of 12 questions, each worth 10 points. The test is extremely challenging with fewer than half the participating students receiving a positive score.

Each school has one official team of three students chosen before taking the test. Math major Liang Zhang ’13 (Shandong, China) led the College’s team with 40 points and ranked 294 out of 4,296 students who took the exam. Peiyuan Mao ’11 (Yangzhou Jiangsu Province, China), who is pursuing a B.S. in physics and an A.B. with a major in economics, scored 29 points and ranked 593rd, and Miao Wang ’12 (Cheng De He Bei, China), a mathematics-economics major, scored 22 points and ranked 715th.

Although they were not on the designated team, Dylan McNamara ’11 (Pasadena, Md.), a math and economics double major, scored 36 points to rank 418; math major Peter McGrath ’11 (Burtonsville, Md.) scored 29 points to rank 593; math major Jiaqi Li ’12 (Sha Shi Jing Zhou, China) scored 28 points for 641st place; and math major Edmund Karasiewicz ’11 (Woodbridge, N.J.) scored 27 points for 669th place.

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