It is great that the AMS is able to conduct this competition which values and encourages mathematical talent. While sports are usually celebrated, it is wonderful that students interested in mathematics can also be encouraged. I sincerely hope that many more students gain the opportunity to participate in this competition.
Ashwin Sah, a ninth grader at Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon, won $3,000 from the AMS and a TI-Nspire CX from Texas Instruments playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2014 Oregon Invitational Math Tournament held at Oregon State University on May 17. Ashwin, who finished second nationally two years in a row in MathCounts, was one of eight students selected based on their scores on tests given earlier in the day. Ashwin's schoolmate, Andrew Bai, was the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician runner-up, winning $500 and a TI-Nspire.
Here's Ashwin just after his victory (more videos just below):
A slideshow of photos from the games:
The contestants with Tom Dick, chair of the Oregon State University Department of Mathematics:
Contestants (left to right): Andrew Bai (Jesuit High School), Markab Han (Sunset High School), Andrew Yang (Westview High School), Ashwin Sah (Jesuit High School), Tyler Snook (Valley Catholic High School),
Yiting Zhou (Valley Catholic High School), Justin Bao (Stoller Middle School), Swati Garg (Westview High School), and Tom (not a contestant)
Over 150 students, teachers, and parents watched the game
One of the few occasions at which Who Wants to Be a Mathematician had a balcony.
Ashwin answered every question in game one correctly (in fact he answered all the game questions that day correctly). Andrew Yang also answered the first four questions correctly and was tied with Ashwin for first at the halfway point, but Ashwin was the only contestant to answer questions five and six correctly, which provided him his final margin of victory. Justin, an eighth grader, was the youngest participant in both games. Ashwin's victory gave him $500, a TI-Nspire CX, and a spot in the Square-Off Round against the eventual game two winner. (Front: Justin and Ashwin. Back: Andrew and Yiting)
Game two was a very close contest that was not decided until the final question. Andrew Bai, Markab Han and Swati Garg answered the first four questions correctly and were tied for first at the halfway point. Markab and Tyler Snook answered question five correctly, which put Markab in first by himself with Tyler in second. Then Andrew was the only one to answer question six correctly, which put him in first. All four contestants answered question seven correctly, so they were within 600 points of each other going into the last question (worth 800 points). Andrew was the only contestant to answer the last question correctly, which put him in first, and earned him $500, a TI-Nspire, and a spot in the Square-Off Round against his schoolmate Ashwin. (Front: Andrew and Swati. Back: Markab and Tyler)
Ashwin answered the Square-Off, a combinatorics question, very quickly, even before the choices were read. His answer was correct, which gave him another $500 and a chance at the Bonus Question worth $2,000. In the Bonus Round, he used his allotted three minutes to analyze the problem two different ways, each of which gave him the correct answer, which brought his cash winnings to $3,000.
Cash and Prizes
Here are all the prizes and cash won by the eight contestants in Who Wants to Be a Mathematician (each also won prizes in the Oregon Invitational Math Tournament):
Thanks very much to our sponsors: the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician technology sponsor Maplesoft, Texas Instruments, and John Wiley and Sons.
Thanks also to Tom Dick, to other members of the department, and to Sastry Pantula, dean of the College of Science, for arrangements and hospitality.
Photos by Darilyn Barney Merrill, instructor in the department, and by Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Office and host of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. Text: Breen as well. Video by Bill Butterworth, Who Wants to Be a Mathematician co-creator and technology wizard.
Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.