MAA Focus — August/September 2012
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Awards Presented to 2012 USAMO Winners

The 41st USA Mathematical Olympiad Awards Ceremony, honoring the twelve winners of the premier high school mathematics competition, took place on June 4 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

“The USAMO is the pinnacle event in a sequence of increasingly challenging mathematical contests administered by the MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions program,” MAA President Paul Zorn told the honorees. “We celebrate your success and your hard work.”

The dozen winners are (in alphabetical order):

Andre Arslan (Hunter College High School, New York, New York)

Joshua Brakensiek (homeschooled, Chandler, Arizona)

Calvin Deng (North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, North Carolina)

Xiaoyu He (Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton, Massachusetts)

Ravi Jagadeesan (Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire) Mitchell Lee (homeschooled, Oakton, Virginia)

Zhuo Qun (Alex) Song (Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire)

Thomas Swayze (Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, California)

Victor Wang (Ladue High School, St. Louis, Missouri)

David Yang (Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire)

Samuel Zbarsky (Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland)

Alex Zhu (Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology, Hackensack, New Jersey)

John P. Holdren, assistant to President Obama for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, attended the dinner and read a congratulatory message from President Obama.

Earlier in the evening, Zorn and American Mathematics Competitions Director Steven Dunbar presented the winners with the USAMO Medal, named in honor of Gerhard C. Arenstorff , a two-time winner of the USAMO and a member of the first U.S. team to compete in the International Mathematical Olympiad(IMO).

Balles Olympiad Award
The twelve winners also received the Robert P. Balles Olympiad Prize. Balles, a lifelong student of mathematics, retired community college math instructor, retired businessman, and currently a private investor, established this award in 2005 to recognize and reward these high-achieving students of mathematics.

Five contest participants tied for the top score in this year’s Olympiad, and all Five received the Samuel L. Greitzer/Murray S. Klamkin Award for excellence in mathematics. They are Xiaoyu He, Mitchell Lee, Thomas Swayze, Samuel Zbarsky, and Alex Zhu. Tom Ruff , vice president of public sector at Akamai Technologies, presented these exceptional students with First-place Akamai Foundation Scholarship Awards.

Glen Van Brummelen, a historian of mathematics at Quest University in Vancouver, Canada, presented the annual USAMO Address, “From the Heavens to the Earth: The Mercurial Tale of Spherical Trigonometry.” Van Brummelen is author of the book The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth: The Early History of Trigonometry (Princeton University Press, 2009).

On the day after the awards ceremony, the USAMO winners traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to participate, along with about fifty other students, in the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program(MOSP). Funded in part by the Akamai Foundation, MOSP provides the students with in-depth training in mathematical problem solving.

Several of the USAMO winners had been selected earlier to be members of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team, which competed against teams from more than 100 nations July 4–16 in Mar del Plata, Argentina (see p. 6). The six-member IMO team consists of Xiaoyu He, Ravi Jagadeesan, Mitchell Lee, Bobby Shen, Thomas Swayze, and David Yang. They continued their training at MOSP before heading for Argentina.

The MAA is grateful to the following organizations for their generous support of the USAMO and the AMC program: Akamai Foundation, D. E. Shaw & Co. L.P., Delta Airlines, Art of Problem Solving, Math for America, Academy of Applied Science, American Mathematical Society, Awesome Math, Casualty Actuarial Society, Jane Street Capital, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and Pi Mu Epsilon.

USAMO table sponsors and supporters include the American Statistical Association, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, American Mathematical Association of Two- Year Colleges, Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, and Mu Alpha Theta.

The USAMO is the most challenging of a sequence of mathematical contests for high school students administered by the MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions program. It serves to indicate the talent of those who may become leaders in the mathematical sciences of the next generation. More than 220,000 worldwide took the first contest (AMC 10 and/ or AMC 12). About 10,000 were invited to compete in the second contest, the American Invitational Mathematics Examination(AIME), and just 267 of these participants made it to the highly selective and prestigious USAMO.

About AMC
The mission of the MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions is to increase interest in mathematics and to develop problem solving through a fun competition. Teachers and schools benefit from the chance to challenge students with interesting mathematical questions that are aligned with curriculum standards at all levels of difficulty. In addition, students gain the opportunity to learn and achieve through competition with students in their school and around the world.