For the UI the 2015 Putnam turned out to be the most successful such contest in a generation. Leading the twenty-four UI participants was Haidong Gong, a Junior in Mathematics, who placed 22nd among the 4275 participating students nationwide and was the only participant in the top 25 from a public institution. Haidong's rank is the highest Putnam rank by a UI student in nearly three decades.
The UI's performance in the team scoring category also was near record-shattering. The UI Putnam Team, consisting of Haidong Gong along with Zehan Chao and Yifei Li, received an honorable mention in the team competition, placing 9th among the 554 participating institutions. This is the highest UI Putnam team rank since the mid 1970s.
The breadth of individual performances turned in by UI participants was equally impressive: six of the twenty-four UI participants - Gong, Chao, and Li, as well as Yewen Fan, Phillip Harris, and Qile Zhi - placed among the top 10% nationwide and made the "Top 500" list, a standard benchmark for excellence in performance on the Putnam. An additional nine UI participants placed among the top 25%.
The Putnam Competition is the annual highlight of the UI Math Contest Program whose activities include training sessions, several local math contests with attractive prize purses, and opportunities to participate in prestigious national and international competitions. This year's program is being organized by A.J. Hildebrand and Timur Oikhberg, with the assistance of graduate students Anton Bernshteyn and Hiram Golze, and undergraduate student Yifei Li.
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