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St. Olaf math minds place first at competition
By Becca Heistad '09 December 15, 2008
A two-man team of St. Olaf math students, Nate Clement '10 and Thomas McConville '09, claimed victory at the Mathematical Association of America's team competition this fall. Team Euler, named in honor of the 18th-century Swiss mathematician, came in first out of 72 teams from 28 colleges and universities of the North Central Section of the MAA.
Each year the MAA holds sectional competitions in an effort to challenge some of the brightest young mathematical minds in the state and to advance the mathematical sciences at the collegiate level.
Not only did Clement and McConville win the battle for bragging rights against their peers at this year's competition, they also received a nearly perfect score. While the median on the difficult test was only 40.5, Team Euler scored a total of 97 out of a possible 100 points, which is something they took more pride in than the win itself, according to Clement.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics Jason Gower noted that because Clement and McConville competed as a pair when other teams in the competition had a third member, it made their victory even more impressive. "They beat out students from other schools with very good math programs, so I'm very impressed," Gower says.
After taking part in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program this year, Clement says he felt prepared to demonstrate his mathematical prowess. "Between my problem-solving class and others, I have had plenty of math 'training' to stay in shape for competitions like the NCS," he says.
McConville and Clement, along with Mathew Deram '11, placed fifth in last year's team competition. Turning in a strong performance at a competition like the MAA NCS is gratifying, Clement says.
"Seeing personal improvement is an encouraging sign that one is actually progressing as a mathematician," he says.
|November 11, 2008|
About the talk: The title alludes not to a once-popular move, but rather to the famous three-door puzzle on the TV show Let's Make a Deal: Players were invited to choose from among three doors, one of which hides a car and the other two goats. The host, Monty Hall, would then reveal one of the goats and invite the player to switch doors.
Should the player switch? What do you think? Why? The matter became a hot topic of popular debate in the 1990s, sometimes pitting professionals against each other. For more on the Monty Hall problem, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem
About the presenter: Brian Hayes is an author, essayist, and columnist for American Scientist; a collection of his essays, titled Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions was published in April.
1. Math Problem Solving Group Day, Time, Room still to be determined
The Math Problem Solving Group meets weekly to work on a variety of problems, often with a central theme, and to discuss problem-solving strategies. Additionally, students can use the meetings to prepare for the MAA North Central Section Team Contest, the Putnam Exam, the Konhauser Problemfest, the COMAP modeling contest, and other math competitions. This is an excellent exercise for students pursuing careers in math education and for students contemplating graduate mathematical study.
Interested students should contact Prof. Gower (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, September 19. Please indicate which night(s) of the week are best for you and any nights that absolutely do not work for you. Please try to be as flexible as possible with scheduling.
2. Weekly MSCS Game Night, Wednesdays 6:45 P.M. Science Center 188
All game enthusiasts are welcome to come to SC 188 on Wednesday nights at 6:45 PM to play a variety of mathematical and other board games. Past games have included Hawaiian checkers, and Settlers of Catan, to name a few. Goodies will be served.
Why you should be there:
- Lots of Fun
- Meet new friends
- Improve your reasoning skills
3. GRE Review SessionsIf you are planning to take the GRE Mathematics Subject test this year, now is the time to review. This fall, Professors Gower and Ufferman will be holding evening review sessions for the GRE math subject test. If you are interested in attending the sessions, please email Eric Ufferman (email@example.com) by Friday, September 12th. Please indicate which night(s) of the week are best for you, any nights that absolutely do not work, and which date you are taking the test. Please try to be as flexible as possible with scheduling.
- Class of 2010: There will be 79 mathematics majors graduating in the class of 2010 -- one of the biggest classes ever, and the 2nd largest major (behind Biology) in 2010. Congratulations to the students, parents, and faculty who helped this happen!
- Goodbyes: At graduation we say goodbye not only to 79 mathematics majors, but also to Professors Delia Letang and Mike Weimerskirch. Delia will begin a tenure-track position at Century College (part of the MNSCU system) in the fall, and Mike will be working closer to home at Macalester College. Thanks to both of them for their excellent service to St. Olaf.
- See you laters: Professors Olaf Hall-Holt, Bruce Hanson, and Kay Smith will be on sabbatical next academic year. Olaf and Kay will be gone the entire year and Bruce will be gone during spring.
- Award winners: Nathan Clement '10, Mat Deram '11, and Vladimir Sotirov '12 took first place in the 18th Annual Konhauser Problemfest, held February 27th at the University of St. Thomas; they scored 85 points of 100. Better still, the trophy for the competition returns to St. Olaf for the second straight year. The Konhauser contest, named for the late Macalester mathematics professor Joe Konhauser, pits 3-person teams against challenging problems. No fewer than 18 Ole mathematics majors participated this year, including Mckenzie West, Amelia Stonesifer, Cathryn Holm, Bjorn Wastvedt, Thu Tran, Cameron Marcott, Trevor Knapp, Thomas Hegland, Benjamin Simmons, Daniel Bryant, Warren Shull, Joshua Wilson, Ling Gu, Yan Jing, and Yujie Li. Congratulations to all.
- MSCS Mess: Read the latest issue.
- Alumni: View profiles of recent alumni/ae.