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.


On October 23, on the University of Minnesota campus's west bank, over 100 Minnesota high school students and their teachers were dazzled by "Start Seeing Math!," a talk by Doug Arnold, Director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), which hosted the event. They were also dazzled by the AMS game Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, as the game finalists, Rohit Agrawal and Justin Wheeler, each won $2000.
Start Seeing Math!, Doug Arnold, Director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications
Arnold began by talking about roots of quadratic polynomials, representing them graphically and algebraically. He then gave a little history of the number i and demonstrated, again graphically and algebraically, operations with complex numbers. Arnold introduced the Mandelbrot set, wowing the audience by zooming in on portions magnified millions of times. Then he took a "commercial break" 
showing a TV commercial (from which the above is taken) that aired during the 2007 Master's tournament on CBS. Arnold helped in the production of the commercial, which shows applications of mathematics and the equations associated with those applications.
After the short "break," Arnold explained how to visualize complex functions and showed some visualizations of translations, dilations, and rotations. He then showed the video "Möbius Transformations Revealed," which he and Jonathan Rogness created, that recently won honorable mention in the 2007 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge  a competition sponsored by Science and the National Science Foundation. The video has received over 50,000 hits on YouTube.
Who Wants to Be a Mathematician
Following a short break with refreshments provided by the IMA, eight Minnesota high school students played two games of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.

Pictured above are: Front row, left to right: kneeling: Paul Kravik (Minnehaha Academy) and Kyle Husebye (Stillwater High School), standing: Rohit Agrawal (Wayzata High School). Back row, left to right: Calli Thompson (Stillwater High School), Perihan MacDonald (St. Paul Central High School), Justin Wheeler (HillMurray High School), Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer and game emcee, Needham High School), Alex Fish (Bloomington Jefferson High School), and Nathan Bertram (Becker High School).
Justin Wheeler (back row, right), a junior, answered all the questions in game one correctly to earn 3600 points and a place in the bonus round. Although all the day's contestants gave good explanations of their answers, one by Alex Fish (front, left) was entertaining enough to earn some time on WCCO's report of the game on its evening news. (Front row: Alex Fish and Paul Kravik. Back row: Calli Thompson and Justin Wheeler.) 
Rohit Agrawal (front row, left), a ninth grader, won this game, but it was a very tight game throughout. Perihan MacDonald (back row, right) had the early lead, eventually being passed by Rohit, while Nathan Bertram (front row, right) and Kyle Husebye (back row, left) tied for second. Kyle later won the tiebreaker. 
In the bonus round, Justin and Rohit wished each other well and then used their three minutes to contemplate the question, which involved combinatorics and some properties of numbers. Rohit shortened the life expectancies of judge Bill Butterworth (DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences) and emcee Mike Breen by waiting until the last few seconds to signal in his answer. Both Justin and Rohit gave good explanations, and as it turned out, they both got the question right, each earning $2000!

Pictured at left is part of the very exuberant Becker High School rooting section, which gave great support to contestant Nathan Bertram (the papers they are holding up spell out "Nate"). At right are the two contestants from Stillwater High School, Calli and Kyle, along with Mike and Doug. 

Here are the prizes won by all eight contestants:
The AMS thanks Doug Arnold, who made the local arrangements for the game, including lastminute arrangements for refreshments; and sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for their continued generous support of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.
Photographs by Who Wants to Be a Mathematician judge and cocreator Bill Butterworth (DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences) and by Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer and host of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician).