Math Contests for Undergraduates

Cornell First-Year Math Prize Exam

Question. A box contains 7 white balls and 8 black balls. If 3 balls are drawn from the box at random, what is the probability of drawing 2 white balls and 1 black ball?

Sound like fun? If you are a freshman and you like to work on challenging math problems, we hope you’ll try the First-Year Math Prize Exam this spring.

For more information, contact Rhiannon Griffiths.

William Lowell Putnam Competition

The Putnam competition consists of twelve questions to be solved during the course of two three-hour sessions. The challenging questions pose problems such as: “Prove or disprove whether it is possible to color each point in the Euclidean plane with 9 colors so that no 2 points with the same color are a unit distance apart.”

The Putnam exam tests originality, technical competence, and familiarity with elementary undergraduate mathematics. Most questions require only the standard concepts of calculus and linear algebra. The competition is open to any registered undergraduate in the U.S. or Canada. Cash prizes are awarded to the top ten students; a team is chosen from each school and the schools with the top five winning teams also receive cash prizes.

Starting the second full week of classes, weekly practice sessions are conducted throughout the fall semester (4:45 p.m. in Malott 532) for those students who are interested in playing with interesting mathematical problems.

For more information, contact Rhiannon Griffiths.

Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM)

Get a glimpse of what an applied mathematician might do outside of academia! Teams of 3 undergraduates will focus on an open-ended “real-world” problem, build a mathematical model, obtain a solution based on it, and write a detailed paper — all in less than 4 days! Problems are taken from the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and the real world around us.

Practice sessions for the 2023 Cornell contest will be held October 31 and November 6 at 4:30 p.m. in Malott 253, and the contest will take place November 10-13. Winners of the Cornell contest in November will represent Cornell at the international contest in January/February.

For more information, visit the Mathematical Modeling Contest web site or contact Alexander Vladimirsky.