Saturday, December 3, 2011
Westminster College was represented by five students who participated in the 72nd annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition on Saturday, December 3, 2011. This year's Westminster's participants included students Gregory Clark, Coty Hainsey, Connor MacKenzie, Richard Ligo, and Robert Rhodes.
The competition was sponsored by the Mathematics and Computer Science Department and was proctored by Dr. Natacha Fontes-Merz, Associate Professor of Mathematics. Participants enjoyed lunch at the Iron Bridge Inn; the lunch punctuated the morning and afternoon sessions.
The Putnam Competition is a challenging individual mathematical exam which is taken by thousands of undergraduate students specializing in mathematics in the U.S. and Canada on the first Saturday in December each year. Noted for its rigor, the exam's median score is usually one or two points out of 120 possible; there have even been years when the median score was zero nationally. The five highest ranking individuals are designated Putnam Fellows by the Mathematical Association of America.
Putnam Exam participants attempt to solve twelve problems, which can typically be solved with only basic knowledge of college mathematics but which require extensive creative thinking. Each of the twelve questions is worth ten points, and the most frequent scores above zero are ten points for a complete solution, nine points for a nearly complete solution, and one point for the beginnings of a solution. In earlier years, the twelve questions were worth one point each, with absolutely no partial credit given.