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Computer science major Alex Balan ’03 (Bucharest, Romania), English major Lindsey Harkness ’03 (Bolder, Colo.), and economics and business major Michael Kotov ’03 (Philadelphia, Pa.) won first place in the Team Barge Mathematics Competition last semester.

The teammates split a $600 prize after prevailing in the event, in which groups of three to five students presented solutions to weekly problems posed by the math department over eight weeks.

Two teams split $750 by tying for second place. One group was comprised of mathematics major Mike Lowe ’03 (Easton, Pa.), mathematics major Kris Miszler ’03 (Hawley, Pa.), and computer science major Lazar Nikolic ’03 (Roswell, Ga.). The other team included first-year students Josh Porter (Pittstown, N.J.), Jacob Carson (New Richmond, Ohio), Varun Mehta (New Delhi, India), and Ibrahima Bah (Bronx, N.Y.).

“We had a very competitive group this semester, with five teams in the running
the entire time,” says tournament organizer Gary Gordon, professor of mathematics. “The winning team’s score of 76 out of 80 was outstanding. We look forward to giving away more money and creating new problems to occupy students next semester.”

Gordon was assisted by fellow math professors Thomas Yuster, Elizabeth McMahon, Derek Smith, and Ethan Berkove.

Competitors are permitted to consult with books, computers, and other resources to solve the problems, but not faculty. The problems usually involve some ingenuity or insight and generally do not rely on much background information from previous courses. The topics range over all areas of mathematics: probability, geometry, number theory, combinatorics, algebra, calculus, etc.

A sample Team Barge problem:
Ethan and Derek entered a bank, eager to cash their first paychecks from Lafayette. They received the same amount, and, since they┬╣re a bit weird, they got their money in pennies, half-dollars and silver dollars, but not in the same combinations. However, they each received the same total number of coins. Ethan remarked, “Hey, our paychecks were the smallest possible value where this could happen!” Derek said, “That figures.”
What is the amount of each check?
Answer: They each get $49.50. One of them receives 99 half-dollars, and the other gets 49 silver dollars and 50 pennies.

Categorized in: Academic News