Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Lafayette’s three-student team in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, described by Time magazine as “the world’s toughest math test,” finished in the top quarter of participating schools with a rank of 111.

A total of 3,615 undergraduate students from more than 450 colleges and universities in North America participated. The Lafayette students with the highest individual scores were Zach Reiter ’07 (score of 18, national rank of 498.5); mathematics-economics and electrical and computer engineering dual degree student Ekaterina Jager ’05 (14, 549); Jacob Carson ’06, physics major Ayelin Gerek ’06, electrical and computer engineering major Josh Porter ’06, and mathematics major Brian Regan ’06 (10, 905.5); and Haotian Wu ’07 (8, 1120.5).

A record 22 Lafayette students took the examination, including Farhan Ahmed, Maria Azimova, Ibrahima Bah, Kari Barkley, Prince Chidyagwai, Kevin Ehly, Teruhisa Haruguchi, John Kolba, Brian Kronenthal, Ryan McCall, Rob McEwen, Verun Mehta, Kyle Palmer, Dhiraj Sharma, and Zach Silverman.

In the notoriously difficult exam, students attempt to solve six problems in a three-hour morning session, returning for six more in the afternoon. No calculators or notes are allowed. Problem topics are drawn from many different areas of mathematics.

A sample problem from 2002-03: Shanille O’Keal shoots free throws on a basketball court. She hits the first and misses the second, and thereafter the probability that she hits the next shot is equal to the proportion of shots she has hit so far. What is the probability she hits exactly 50 of her first 100 shots? Answer: 1/99.

Taken the first Saturday in December, the Putnam exam is part of an active schedule of mathematics problem-solving events in which Lafayette students participate, including the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges Math Contest, in which Lafayette has finished first for the past four years; the national Mathematical Contest in Modeling and Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling; and the math department’s individual and team Barge contests, Math Bowl, and Problem Group.

Categorized in: Academic News