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Some students of mathematics enjoy participating in math competitions. For such students the Department hosts an optional weekly Problem Solving Seminar where they may train to compete in several local and national mathematics competitions, including:
The Putnam examination is a nationwide mathematics competition sponsored annually by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). All full-time undergraduate students may participate and each year about forty Michigan students compete. The competition consists of an examination on topics common to the undergraduate curriculum and is given in early December. The emphasis is on ingenuity rather than knowledge. There are both team and individual prizes, including a graduate fellowship.
The Putnam began in 1938 as a competition between mathematics departments at colleges and universities. Now the competition has grown to be the leading university-level mathematics examination in the world. Although participants work independently on the problems, there is a team aspect to the competition as well. Each institution with at least three participants identifies three participants who comprise its team. Prizes are awarded to the participants with the highest scores and to the departments of mathematics of the five institutions whose teams obtain the highest rankings.
The University of Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Competition is held towards the end of the Winter semester each year. The test, which is open to all full-time undergraduates on the Ann Arbor campus, typically consists of ten mathematical problems that students have three hours to solve (with proof). The difficulty of the problems may vary from easy to extremely hard, but on average they are quite hard. The competition offers substantial cash prizes that vary from year to year depending on financing.
The Virginia Tech Regional Mathematics Contest is sponsored each fall by the Mathematics Department at Virginia Tech. More than 200 colleges and universities are invited to participate each year.
Now approaching its 40th year, the contest began in 1979 and has grown to the point where over 100 schools with over 700 contestants participate in a typical year. Contestants at each participating school take the two and one-half hour exam on their own campus under the supervision of one of their own faculty members. Individuals compete for $800 in regional prizes for which any contestant is eligible, and $300 in local prizes for which only Virginia Tech students are eligible.