MAA Focus April/May 2014 : Page 6

6 Po-Shen Loh Appointed USA IMO Team Leader By Steven R. Dunbar I n sports, a new coach for a team with a strong record is big news, important to the players and the fans. Just so with the team the MAA sponsors to represent the United States at the annual International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Earlier this academic year, the MAA appointed Po-Shen Loh to be the leader of the USA team for the IMO and the equally important academic director of the Mathematical Olym-piad Summer Program, where the team prepares for the Olympiad. Po-Shen will be taking over these two key positions from Zuming Feng, who has been leader and aca-demic director since 2003. Po-Shen is not a newcomer to the Olympiads and to mathematics competitions in general. He was a silver medalist at the 1999 IMO. He served as an assistant coach at the national training camp of the USA Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP) from 2002 to 2004 and from 2008 to present. Other honors include distinguished placements in the 2002 and 2003 Putnam Mathematical Compe-titions and 2004 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, and third place in the 1996 na-tional MathCounts competition. Seek and Select As academic director of the MOSP, Po-Shen will help recruit and select the instructors and graders who teach and coach the students pre-paring for Olympiad-level competi-tion. This means also designing a curriculum that introduces students to problem solving and proof writ-ing at the Olympiad level in alge-bra, geometry, combinatorics, and number theory. An additional responsibility is to write the Olympiad-style sequence of team selection tests that deter-mine the ultimate six students for the team from the larger group of about 55 students at the MOSP. As academic direc-tor, Po-Shen will contribute to the con-struction and grading of the USA Math-ematical Olympiad. tional teams. There, the lead-ers select and refine the set of six problems that become the IMO test for that year. The leaders also create rubrics for scoring the solutions. After the students take the IMO, the leader presents their solutions to the IMO coordinators, who award points according to the rubrics. The presentation gets interesting when a student finds a creative or even a startlingly new solution that doesn’t conform to a rubric. In such a case, the leader has to both understand the new solution and convince the coordinators (who are reading a new solution, which is usually not in their first language!) of its correctness. Po-Shen is an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton University, and his research considers a variety of topics that lie at the intersection of combi-natorics, probability, and computer science. Steve Dunbar is the director of the MAA’s American Mathematics Com-petitions program. Role at Competitions Po-Shen will travel early to the annual IMO and meet with the leaders of all the other na-Po-Shen Loh 0$$)2&86v$SULO0D\
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Po-Shen Loh Appointed USA IMO Team Leader

Steven R. Dunbar

<br /> In sports, a new coach for a team with a strong record is big news, important to the players and the fans. Just so with the team the MAA sponsors to represent the United States at the annual International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Earlier this academic year, the MAA appointed Po-Shen Loh to be the leader of the USA team for the IMO and the equally important academic director of the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program, where the team prepares for the Olympiad.<br /> <br /> Po-Shen will be taking over these two key positions from Zuming Feng, who has been leader and academic director since 2003.<br /> <br /> Po-Shen is not a newcomer to the Olympiads and to mathematics competitions in general. He was a silver medalist at the 1999 IMO. He served as an assistant coach at the national training camp of the USA Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP) from 2002 to 2004 and from 2008 to present.<br /> <br /> Other honors include distinguished placements in the 2002 and 2003 Putnam Mathematical Competitions and 2004 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, and third place in the 1996 national MathCounts competition.<br /> <br /> Seek and Select<br /> <br /> As academic director of the MOSP, Po-Shen will help recruit and select the instructors and graders who teach and coach the students preparing for Olympiad-level competition. This means also designing a curriculum that introduces students to problem solving and proof writing at the Olympiad level in algebra, geometry, combinatorics, and number theory.<br /> <br /> An additional responsibility is to write the Olympiad-style sequence of team selection tests that determine the ultimate six students for the team from the larger group of about 55 students at the MOSP.<br /> <br /> As academic director, Po-Shen will contribute to the construction and grading of the USA Mathematical Olympiad.<br /> <br /> Role at Competitions<br /> <br /> Po-Shen will travel early to the annual IMO and meet with the leaders of all the other national teams. There, the leaders select and refine the set of six problems that become the IMO test for that year. The leaders also create rubrics for scoring the solutions.<br /> <br /> After the students take the IMO, the leader presents their solutions to the IMO coordinators, who award points according to the rubrics. The presentation gets interesting when a student finds a creative or even a startlingly new solution that doesn’t conform to a rubric.<br /> <br /> In such a case, the leader has to both understand the new solution and convince the coordinators (who are reading a new solution, which is usually not in their first language!) of its correctness.<br /> <br /> Po-Shen is an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton University, and his research considers a variety of topics that lie at the intersection of combinatorics, probability, and computer science.<br /> <br /> Steve Dunbar is the director of the MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions program.

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