Norwich Students Take Part in Annual Mathematics Competition

On December 3, 2005, three Norwich University math majors joined contestants from 500 post-secondary institutions across the United States and Canada to take part in the 66th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. The competition, administered by the Mathematical Association of America, consisted of hours of extremely challenging problem solving--so difficult in fact, that roughly half of the contestants did not receive any credit for their work.

Mathematics professor Daniel McQuillan spoke about the arduous nature of the competition. “There is no substitute for the experience of working intensively from 10am until 6pm, typically on only two or three problems. Each question is a puzzle whose pieces are familiar mathematical ideas—we just don'’t know which ones, nor do we know how the pieces fit together. The successful student must have excellent intuition to find exactly the right pieces and then be very sophisticated in order to put them together correctly."

Senior Kathleen Smith was Norwich’s top performer for the fourth year in a row, placing 761st out of 3,545 total contestants. Tim Curtis ’07 and S. James Piner ’08 also performed well, receiving positive credit for their work and helping to secure Norwich’s best ever total score.

Professor McQuillan attributed the University’s success to the effort of the students involved. "I am truly proud of our students. They are so enthusiastic and full of ideas that it makes the weekly problem-solving sessions a tremendous amount of fun."