Lafayette’s three-student team finished in the top 10 percent of schools participating nationally in the 2011-12 William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition.
The College placed 41st out of 460 teams. Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Caltech were this year’s top finishers. This is now the 10th year of the last 12 that a Lafayette team has finished in the top 15 percent, including top five percent finishes in 2002 and 2008.
“It’s the fifth time in the past six years that the team has ranked in the top 10 percent,” says faculty adviser Derek Smith, associate professor of mathematics. “Our participation and performance over the past 10 years certainly puts us among the very top liberal arts colleges in the nation.”
The six-hour exam, called the “world’s toughest math test” by Time magazine, consists of 12 questions, each worth 10 points. Fewer than half of the participating students receive a positive score.
Each school has one official team of three students chosen before taking the test. Math major Liang Zhang ’13 (Shandong, China) scored 14 points and ranked 410 of 4,440 students who took the exam. Jiaqi Li ’12 (Sha Shi Jing Zhou, China), a math major, and Miao Wang ’12 (Cheng De He Bei, China), a mathematics-economics major, both scored 10 points and tied for 792nd place.
Although not on the designated team, Xin Hu ’14 (Chengdu, China), a math major, led Lafayette with a score of 33 points, ranking 88th. Gavin Hobbs ’12 (Pen Argyl, Pa.), a math major, scored 13 points, placing 459th; Boyang Qin ’13 (Beijing, China), a mechanical engineering major, and Thomas Wilson ’12 (Franklin, N.J.), a math major, both scored 12 points and tied for 532nd place; Helen Hutchens ’15 (Washington Boro, Pa.), who is planning to pursue a dual degree in international studies and mechanical engineering, scored 10 points, ranking 792th; and Michael Pinkard ’14 (Puyallup, Wash.), a double major in physics and mathematics, scored 9 points for 885th place.