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Guangxi Wang, a sophomore from Shanghai, China, led Lafayette to an extremely impressive showing in the 61st Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition Dec. 2.

As a team, Lafayette finished No. 40, placing in the top 10 percent of the 434 participating institutions.

Wang’s performance tied him for 303rd place, putting him among the top 11 percent of the 2818 individual competitors. Along with Wang, an electrical and computer engineering major, Lafayette’s three-man team included seniors Brian Bagenstose, an electrical and computer engineering major from Reading, Pa., and Bruce Adcock, a math major from Watervliet, N.Y.

“This is the best peformance Lafayette has ever had,” says Derek A. Smith, assistant professor of mathematics. “More than half of Lafayette’s participants had individual scores in the top 25 percent of the competitors.

“The Putnam Competition is an extremely challenging examination based on topics drawn from many different areas of mathematics,” Smith adds. “You can’t overemphasize the quality of the competition. This year’s top 10 team performances were by Duke, MIT, Harvard, Caltech, Toronto, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago, Waterloo, and Washington University. More complete details will appear later in the journal American Mathematical Monthly, but I am confident that Lafayette’s performance is among the best in the nation for liberal arts colleges.”

Renowned for its difficulty, the 6-hour, 12-question examination is held by the Mathematical Association of America each year on the first Saturday in December with complete results available the following April. It is open to U.S. and Canadian undergraduates

Also taking the exam on an individual basis for Lafayette were Ned Allis, a junior math major from Shermans Dale, Pa.; Alexandru Balan, a sophomore computer science major from Bucharest, Romania; Tim Fargus, a junior math major from Stafford Springs, Conn.; Joshua Grubman, a sophomore from Randolph, N.J.; Robert Hawkey, a senior math major from Hainesport, N.J.; April Rauscher, a senior international economics and commerce major from Ellicott City, Md.; Peter Susi, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major from Unionville, Conn; and Tim Tuller, a junior math major from Jamestown, NY.

Categorized in: Academic News