Colorado State University Students Place in Top 10 Percent of National Mathematical Competition

A Colorado State University team placed in the top 10 percent of the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, according to final results released March 25.

Out of 419 colleges and universities, the Colorado State team achieved 15th place, the best finish in the competition since 1984 when the team placed 10th. The top four teams represented Harvard, MIT, Princeton and CalTech.

The Colorado State team included Fritz Obermeyer of Fort Collins, Colo.; Matt Kahle of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Paul Orr of Pueblo, Colo.; Jonathan Cross of Evergreen, Colo.; and Brett Seyler of Salem, Ore.

The daylong exam is given every December to undergraduate teams and individuals throughout North America. It consists of twelve problems worth 10 points each, for a maximum total of 120 points. Participants have six hours to answer the problems. The median score on the exam this year was nine.

Questions given on the test were similar to the following: Let N be the positive integer with 1998 decimal digits, all of them 1. Find the thousandth digit after the decimal point of the square root of N.

The team met each week during the fall semester with Dick Osborne, professor of mathematics, to discuss Putnam-style problems, introduce techniques and brainstorm solutions.

The Colorado State department of mathematics has fielded a Putnam team every year for over 20 years. Last year the team placed 30th.