The 2014 William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition

What a way to spend your Saturday! Get yourself to campus for 10 AM and work on six math problems for three hours. Then after a two hour break, spend another three hours of six more problems. That’s what thousands of undergraduate students throughout the US and Canada, including 14 UML students, did on December 6 to take part in the2014 William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition.

The Problems
The problems are all considered “elementary” in that they only require the background of basic undergraduate mathematics courses to understand. They are definitely not “easy.” Historically, the median score out of 120 (10 points per problem) higher than single digits, and there have been years when the median was zero! In each session the first two problems tend to be somewhat easier than the other four. Here is the first problem from the morning session, which a Calculus II student should understand.
Prove that every nonzero coefficient of the Taylor series of \[(1-x+x^{2})e^{x}\] about \(x=0\) is a rational number whose numerator (in lowest terms) is either 1 or a prime number.
If you work on this, remember that the the competition prohibits books or any electronic devices!

The UML Team
The participants from UMass Lowell this year included 12 “rookies” who had not previously competed in the Putnam. All were part of the Honors Problem Solving course taught by Ken Levasseur this semester. They were Kenneth Allen, Marissa Ard, Anna Baturin, Stephanie Bellerose, James Carbone, Damir Ismagilov, Alex Kane, George Katsaros, Chanson Lim, Erinn McLaughlin, Grant Moyer, and John Romano.
Returning for their second year in the completion were Jonathan Edwin and Alvin Kow. Graduate student Chuck Bradley was ineligible for the competition, but participated in practices and lent moral support to the participants.
Scoring the competition is a long process carried out by Putnam staff at the University of Santa Clara. Scores normally are announced in April.
Next year’s competition will be on Saturday December 5, 2015.

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