Math Contests at Illinois
FALL 2020 UPDATE
All contest activities during the Academic Year 2020/2021
will be conducted online, via a Moodle site. To register and gain
access to the Moodle site hosting the contests,
please fill out the following form:
- The contests are open to undergraduates enrolled at the U of I and
to local high school students. You don't have to be on campus to
participate in the contests.
- Registration provides access to the Moodle site hosting the contests,
but there are no commitments or obligations that come with the registration.
You can decide up until the day before each contest whether to participate.
- Within a few days after registering, you should be able to see the
Math Contest site on your Moodle Dashboard. (Log into
and click on "Dashboard".)
Tentative Contest Schedule
To register for any (or all) of these contests,
sign up through the above link,
You only need to register once to gain access to all contests hosted
by the Math Contests Moodle site.
- Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020: UI Freshman Math Contest.
An entry level math contest, restricted to UI Freshmen and local high
- Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020: UI Mock Putnam Exam.
A local contest, modelled after the
Putnam Competition. The 2020 edition of the
Putnam Competition had been originally scheduled to be held on this day,
but has now been postponed to February 2021 (see below).
- Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021: Putnam Exam.
Putnam is the most famous college-level math contest. It is open to
undergraduates at universities and colleges in the United States and Canada.
Traditionally held on the first Saturday of December, the 2020 edition has
been postponed to February.
February/March 2021 (TBD): UI Undergraduate Math Contest.
The main local contest event in the spring semester.
About the UI Math Contest Program
The UI Math Contest Program is one of the most extensive and most visible
in the country. It has been considerably expanded in recent years with
additional contest opportunities and an enhanced training program, and
participation in our events is at record levels. Our students have
produced outstanding results in national competitions, culminating in
Honorable Mention for the UI Putnam Team in 2015.
Activities offered include training sessions
and practice contests in the fall; several local math contests with attractive
prize purses; and opportunities to participate in prestigious
national and international competitions, including the William
Lowell Putnam Competition., the Virginia Tech Regional
Math Contest, and the
Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM).
The program is being organized by A.J. Hildebrand and Timur Oikhberg, with
assistance from graduate students David Altizio and Shiliang Gao.
News and Announcements
Results of the 2020 UI Mock Putnam Contest.
The 2020 UI Mock Putnam Contest was held December 5, 2020, the day
on which the national Putnam Competition was originally scheduled to take
place (which has since been rescheduled for February 2021).
The top three scorers were Pavle Vuksanovic, Dinglong Wang, and Alexander
Ristich. Problems and solutions can be found at the
UI Math Contest Problem Archive.
Results of the 2020 UI Freshman Math Contest.
2020 UI Freshman Math Contest was held online on October 17, 2020.
The contest was won by Dinglong Wang, a Freshman in Mathematics.
Aaron Cho, a local high school student, placed second.
Problems and solutions can be
found at the
UI Math Contest Problem Archive.
Results of the 2020
U of I Undergraduate Math Contest.
The 2020 UI Undergraduate Math Contest was held February 22, 2020. The
winner was Kieran Kaempen. Alexander Ristich and Pavle Vuksanovic tied for
Second Prize. For more information click on the above link.
- Results of the 2019 Putnam
Twenty-eight UI students participated in the 2019 Putnam Contest, held
December 7, 2019. The top UI scorer was Ruzhang Yang, who placed
in the top 2% nationally and received an Honorable Mention. For more
details click on the above link.
Results of the 2019 Virginia Tech Math Contest.
Seventeen UI students participated
Virginia Tech Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Contest (VTRMC),
a Putnam-style contest held October 26, 2019. The highest-ranking
Pavle Vuksanovic was the top-ranking local participant, placing
46th among the 758 participants nationwide. Also placing in the top 10%
overall were Stephen Fan and Darwin Kim.
2019 UI Fall Math Contest Results.
The first two contest events of the 2018/19 academic year, the Freshman
Math Contest and the UI Mock Putnam Exam, were both held on Oct. 12, 2019.
Alexander Ristich won the Freshman Contest, with
Pavle Vuksanovic, Ruzhang Yang, and Yipeng Yang
tied for second place..
The winner of the Mock Putnam Exam was Ziyi Chen, followed by
Darwin Kim and Hongyi Chen
in second and third place.
See the above link for
more information, and links to contest problems and solutions.
- Results of the 2019 MCM/ICM
Math Modeling Contest.
The UIUC teams had one of the strongest showings ever at this contest, which
took place January 24-28, 2019. Of the five participating UIUC teams,
three earned a "Meritorious Winner" designation, placing among the top 8%
of all teams. For a full report click on the above link.
The William Lowell Putnam Competition
William Lowell Putnam Competition
is an annual math contest for undergraduates sponsored by the Mathematical
Association of America. It has been called the "world's toughest math test",
and is widely considered as the most prestigious contest of its kind.
More than 4000 students from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada participate in this contest each year.
The Putnam competition is held simultaneously at participating universities, usually on the first Saturday of December.
The Putnam competition consists of a morning session and an afternoon session of three hours each. In each session, six problems are
to be solved. The problems are graded on a 0 - 10 point scale, for a maximal score of 120 points.
The problems are challenging and require considerable ingenuity and insight, but little technical knowledge
beyond high school mathematics. It is extremely rare that a contestant solves all 12 problems. For example, in the 1996 Putnam competition, the highest score was
98 points, and a score of 10 (the equivalent of a single problem solved correctly) would have placed a contestant among the top third of all
2400 participants! The highest ranking participants from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in recent years have earned scores in the 40 - 60 point range and
ranked in the top 100.
The Putnam competition is open to all regularly enrolled undergraduate students; for details on how to enter click on
the link below. In addition to the individual competition, there is also a team competition among participating colleges. The team rank of a college
is determined by the scores of three participants from that college who
have to be named in advance. The team members will, of course, still be
ranked as individual contestants. The 25 highest scoring individuals and
the five highest scoring teams receive monetary awards. While the
University of Illinois team has not made it into the money ranks in
recent history (the closest we got were an 8th place in
1975 and a 9th place in 2015), during the past ten years two of our
students (Yi-Wei Chan in 2009 and Haidong Gong in 2015) placed in the top
25 in the individual competition and earned $250.
Results of these contests are available at the following link:
History of local contests.
For problems and solutions see the
UI Math Contest Problem Archive.
The UI Mock Putnam Exam.
The UI Mock Putnam Exam is a local version of the Putnam Exam, held each year in early fall. It is similar in format and
content to the Putnam competition, but the problems are somewhat easier. The Mock Putnam Exam serves as a practice
test for the Putnam Exam, and a key tool in the selection of the U of I Putnam Team. Prizes of up to $300 are available to the top scorer(s).
The UI Freshman Math Contest.
A recent addition to the local math contest offerings, the UI Freshman Math
Contest is held in early fall in conjunction with the UI Mock Putnam Exam.
Somewhat easier than the Mock Putnam Exam and restricted to Freshmen, the UI
Freshman Contest provides incoming students an opportunity to show their problem
solving skills in direct competition against their peers.
The UI Undergraduate Math Contest.
Formerly known as the "Orange and Blue Contest", the UI Undergraduate Math Contest is a long-running, locally organized problems
contest, held in the spring semester. Prizes of up to $300 await the top scorer(s).
The UI Putnam Newsletter
The UI Putnam Newsletter is an email newsletter containing announcements about
the Putnam competition and other contest-related activities at the U of I. The mailing list for the
newsletter is maintained by Professor Hildebrand; to be put on this mailing list, send an email to email@example.com
with your email address (i.e., NetID) at illinois.edu. Put "Putnam Mailing List" in the subject line.
Note: This is a local newsletter, with announcements of local events and activities that would be of little interest
to those not at the U of I. To keep the mailing list manageable, it is restricted to U of I students and faculty, and an illinois.edu address
Links and Resources
Of Related Interest
Last modified: Mon 07 Dec 2020 12:11:28 PM CST