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U.S. Wins Romanian Master of Mathematics Competition

A team of U.S. high school students won first place in the 2016 Romanian Master of Mathematics (RMM), one of the most challenging international high school mathematics competitions in the world. Sixteen countries were invited to compete in the RMM, held from February 24 to 29 in Bucharest, Romania. In addition to the team victory, U.S. student Eshaan Nichani achieved the highest individual score in the contest, winning a gold medal. 

The U.S. team won first place at the Romanian Master of Mathematics. Pictured here with coaches Razvan Gelca and Po-Shen Loh.

All the American students placed high in the competition: Nichani and Junyao Peng won individual gold medals; Alec Sun, Michael Ma, and Calvin Lee were awarded silver; and Celine Liang received honorable mention.

It shows that we have a great depth of talent in the United States,” said Po-shen Loh, deputy coach for the team and professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University. This year’s top score was 29 out of 42 possible points (Nichani). “This may have been the most difficult RMM ever,” he said after the February 28 awards ceremony. Each year the test is rewritten, and last year’s top score was 39 points.

Loh said, “It's worth noting that the top RMM student, Nichani, pulled ahead of the pack by observing a link between one of the hardest problems on this exam and elliptic curves, number theory, and group theory--all of which are topics of mainstream mathematics, and outside the typical high school Olympiad spectrum.”

The team score is based on the combined highest three individual scores: the United States placed first with a score of 73, followed by the United Kingdom (72) and Poland (69). The United States also won first place at the 2015 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), which U.K. coach Geoff Smith labeled the “hardest ever” IMO.

Loh attributes the victories to the Mathematical Association of America’s (MAA) robust training program, the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program. “We've been running the national Olympiad training program with a focus on the long-term development of our country's talent, and it's great to see students using the Olympiad as a bridge to advanced topics, more than just an end in itself,” he said.

The MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of mathematical competitions, “Wanted: Brilliant Young Minds.” The goal of the campaign is to recruit more of America’s youth to mathematics. “Of course, we're thrilled to score a national victory in this competition along the way, but our eyes are still focused on the goals which remain far in the future,” said Loh.

About AMC

The Mathematical Association of America is the largest professional society that focuses on mathematics accessible at the undergraduate level. The mission of the MAA's American Mathematics Competitions is to increase interest in mathematics and to develop problem solving through a fun competition. Teachers and schools benefit from the chance to challenge students with interesting mathematical questions that are aligned with curriculum standards at all levels of difficulty. The MAA AMC programs are supported by a number of donors, including the Akamai Foundation and the Simons Foundation.

News Date: 
Monday, February 29, 2016