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Youth prevailed over experience in this year’s Math Bowl, won recently by a team of four first-year students.

Ask Jordan, the winning team, was comprised of Jordan Tirrell ’08 (West Grove, Pa.), Xue Ji ’08 (Wuxi Jiangsu, China), Mark Kokoska ’08 (Bloomsburg, Pa.), and Keming Liang ’08 (Zibo, China).

“The students had a wonderful time, especially on questions about Lafayette faculty,” says tournament organizer Gary Gordon, professor of mathematics.

Second place went to Fire Ants: Tim Zirkel ’08 (Honey Brook, Pa.), Vijay Ramdeen ’08 (Brick, N.J.), Erin Zimmerman ’08 (Wilmington, Del.), and Will Salinger ’08 (Greensboro, N.C.)

Also participating was Team Sparkle, comprised of Rob McEwen ’05, who graduated with B.S. degrees in computer science and mathematics; Prince Chidyagwai ’05, who graduated with a B.S. mathematics degree and an A.B. with a major in computer science; Blair Boehm ’05 (Monkton, Md.), a mathematics major; and Kevin Penderghest ’05 (Lindenwold, N.J.), also a mathematics major.

Rounding out the field was Isomorphisms: mathematics majors Maureen Jackson ’06 (Tokyo, Japan), Jenna Bratz ’06 (Springfield, Pa.), Jacob Carson ’06 (New Richmond, Ohio), and Stacey Altrichter ’06 (Chatham, N.J.).

The format and rules are based on those of College Bowl competitions. Correct answers to toss-up questions earn 10 points. Buzzing in early is allowed, but the team loses five points if it’s wrong. Correct answers earn a chance at a bonus question, usually worth 20 points. The winners receive a Math Bowl Champion T-shirt.

Potential questions come from pop culture — movies about math or that use math words in the title, such as The Matrix and A Beautiful Mind, cars with math-related names like Infiniti and Maxima, and TV shows such as “The Simpsons”; local culture — match the faculty member to his paper, or graduate school, or previous employer, or spouse or first language; and mathematics — arithmetic, history, number theory, etc.

Sample questions from this year’s contest:

  • Since 1992, Lafayette has been running a math Research Experience for Undergraduates program. How many papers have been produced by REU and EXCEL researchers in this time (within five)? [56]
  • Of those papers, how many have been co-authored by Cliff Reiter? [21]
  • Name the first number whose English name contains the letter A. [1000]
  • Paul Erdos published more than 1,400 mathematics papers with several co-authors. Your Erdos number is 1 if you were one of his co-authors; your number is 2 if you are a co-author of an Erdos co-author, and so on. In Lafayette’s math department, who has the smallest Erdos number? [Derek Smith, 2]
  • Name all positive integers that are equal to the number of factors they have. [only 1 and 2]

For more on Lafayette’s Math Bowl and an article about it published in Math Horizons, see the article on last year’s results.

Categorized in: Academic News