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Harvard Wins 72nd Putnam Competition

The results are in for the 72nd Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. Ranked first and taking home a $25,000 reward — plus a $1,000 individual award for each team member—was the team of Eric K. Larson, Evan M. O'Dorney, and Alex (Lin) Zhai from Harvard University. Putnam Fellow awards and the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize were also awarded this year.

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, held on the first Saturday in December, is for U.S. and Canadian college students. In 2011, a total of 4,440 students from 572 colleges and universities in Canada and the United States spent six hours (in two sittings) trying to solve twelve problems.

Placing second, the team of Michael T. Druggan, Albert Gu, and Archit U. Kulkarni from Carnegie Mellon was awarded $20,000 and $800 for each team member. Zarathustra E. Brady, Samuel S. Elder, and Brian R. Lawrence of the California Institute of Technology placed third with a $15,000 team award and $600 for each team member. Stanford University's team of Seok Hyeong Lee, Gyujin Oh, and Lyuboslav N. Panchev placed fourth, receiving a $10,000 award and $400 individually. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology team of Vlad Firoiu, Colin P. Sandon, and Jacob N. Steinhardt placed fifth, earning a $5,000 award and $200 individually.

Each year the competition names Putnam Fellows, the five highest ranking individuals. Each Fellow receives an award of $2,500. For 2011, Samuel S. Elder (Caltech), Brian R. Lawrence (Caltech), Seok Hyeong Lee (Stanford), Xiaosheng Mu (Yale), and Evan M. O'Dorney (Harvard) earned this honor.

Fei Song (University of Virginia) was awarded the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize. This prize was established in 1992 to be awarded periodically to a woman whose performance in the competition was deemed particularly meritorious. The winner receives $1,000.

The full results of this year's competition are available on the American Mathematics Competitions website.

For a history of the Putnam Competition, read the article (pdf) by Joe Gallian.

News Date: 
Monday, March 19, 2012