The 2012 National Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston
"Thanks so much for everything! The entire competition was an amazing experience that was unlike anything I've ever been a part of."
Below is a summary of the 2012 national contest, including a slideshow of photos from the contest and the awards ceremony. Videos of the contest, including all the questions tackled by the contestants that day, are here.)
Shyam was not the only winner that day. All 10 contestants, pictured below, won cash and prizes ... and plaques (read more about the contestants here).
Left to right: Allen Yang, Cary Academy (NC), Richard Spence, Sonoran Science Academy (AZ), Rachit Singh, Pullman High School (WA), Eric Schneider, High Technology High School (NJ), Allan Sadun, Liberal Arts and Science Academy (TX), Raj Raina, Novi High School (MI), Pablo Luis Hernandez, Miami Springs High School (FL), Stephen Lamontagne, Barrington High School (RI), Alex McDonough, Winchester High School (MA), and Shyam Naryanan, Blue Valley West High School (KS)
In a first for Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, there were three runners-up in this contest: Stephen Lamontagne, Eric Schneider, and Allen Yang. Normally there is only one runner-up, but because of a typing mistake, the last question of the second semifinal that appeared on the screen was not what was intended (onscreen, the operative equation was cos(cos theta) = theta, when the equation should have been cos(cos theta) = cos theta). Eric and Allen's answer was scored as incorrect when in fact it was correct (based on the displayed question). So each of the three contestants (pictured below) won $3000 and a runner-up trophy.
After the contest, the contestants received awards at a ceremony presided over by Ken Ono (Emory University), who has given lectures at many events involving Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. The contestants were welcomed and congratulated by AMS Executive Director Don McClure, and AMS President Eric M. Friedlander. Later the two were joined by Kenneth Ribet (Stanford University) and Edward Frenkel (University of California, Berkeley) to hand out the plaques. Following lunch, Hee Oh (Brown University) handed out trophies for first place and for the runners-up.
Here are the prizes and cash won by the contestants in Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.
In addition to those amounts, the math department at each contestant's school receives a matching amount from the AMS.
The last sentence above is proof that not all good judges are male, and as noted at the contest, not all good math students or mathematicians are male. See the AMS poster "Women Doing Mathematics" (available free from the AMS Public Awareness Office) for evidence.
See coverage of the contest: Of Shyam and his victory in The Kansas City Star and on KMBC-TV, of Allen Yang in the Raleigh News & Observer, and of coverage before the contest of Raj (on WJBK, WDIV and in an article in the Detroit News), and Pablo in the Miami Herald. (Rachit and Stephen were also written about, in the Idaho Statesman and Providence Journal, respectively, but the links have expired.)
Text by Mike Breen.
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