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Two student teams earned perfect scores to tie as winners of the math department’s fall Team Barge competition, splitting the $1,000 and $450 prizes for first and second place, respectively.

Held each semester, the contest has groups of three to five students attempting to solve a different weekly problem over eight weeks. Competitors are permitted to consult with books, computers, and other resources to solve the problems, but not faculty.

One of the two winning teams included computer science major Smathi Charanasomboon ’07 (Bangkok, Thailand) and physics majors Aydin Gerek ’07 (Istanbul, Turkey), Teruhisa Haruguchi ’07 (Short Hills, N.J.), Ko Ko Maung ’07 (Tharkayta Yangon, Myanmar), and Haotian Wu ’07(Suzhou, China).

They were matched by Jinjin Qian ’08 (Shanghai, China), mathematics major Jacob Carson ’06 (New Richmond, Ohio), and Ekaterina Jager ’05(Tashkent, Uzbekistan), who is pursuing a B.S. electrical and computer engineering degree and an A.B. degree with a major in mathematics-economics.

Finishing a close third were first-year students Xue Ji (Wuxi Jiangsu, China), Mark Kokoska (Bloomsburg, Pa.), and Jordan Tirrell (West Grove, Pa.).

“This represents some impressive work by a great group of students,” says organizer Ethan Berkove, assistant professor of mathematics. “By the end of the competition, there were still seven teams submitting solutions, and all of them scored well in the end.”

Barge 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. Sample problem from fall 2003:

A Silly Sum: What is the sum of all the digits that make up the numbers in the list {1, 2, 3, 4, , 2001, 2002, 2003}?
Answer: 28,014

Last semester, Gerek took the $500 prize for first place in the Individual Barge Mathematics Contest, which is open to first-year students and sophomores. Carson received $300 for second place and Wu was awarded $200 for third.

The math department sponsors a Problem Solving Group that meets each week to discuss and solve mathematics problems, which helps students prepare for the Team and Individual Barge Competitions, the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) Math Contest, and the William Powell Putnam Mathematical Competition. For the past five years, a Lafayette team has taken first place in the LVAIC Math Contest.

Categorized in: Academic News