The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is administered by the Mathematical Association of America . Held the first Saturday in December, the exam is designed to test originality and technical competence in formal theories from various disciplines of undergraduate mathematics. For a more detailed description, please click here. For the prize structure please click here.
This year's (2018) Putnam competition was held on Saturday, December 1st, from 10am to 6pm in DRL room A6, with a two hour break in between (from 1-3pm). Students competed as individuals, and in addition three students represented Penn as our team in the parallel competition among universities.
Sessions on mathematical problem-solving, which served as practice sessions for the competition, were held in October and November. Dates, times, and rooms were announced on this page (below). There was also a mock Putnam exam, consisting of five problems, that took place on Friday, November 16, 3:30-5:30pm in DRL 4E19. That mock exam was intended to help prepare students for the actual competition. In addition, it was used to help choose the members of Penn's team for the December 2018 competition.
Problems from Putnam exams and solutions (up through and including the 2018 exam) can be found here, along with a list of winners and information about scores.
Undergraduate students were also invited to take a "mini-Putnam" competition that took place on Sat., Oct. 27, 2018, from 9-11:30am, in DRL room 4E19. This is a regional math contest that is organized by Virginia Tech, and which is given at each participating university to students who register. For more information about this event, the Virginia Tech Regional Math Contest, see this page.
For advice on how to write up solutions to problems, Putnam participants may find this page helpful.
Those who were interested in participating in the Putnam Competition, in the mock Putnam, or in the Virignia Tech Regional Math Contest, were instructed to contact Prof. David Harbater, the faculty advisor for fall 2018. Based on the number of those who had indicated their interest in taking the Putnam Competition, the Putnam organization allocated 25 slots to Penn this year. Those who did not indicate their interest early could still take the Putnam if they showed up at the exam and if enough slots became available as a result of some others not showing up. Preference was given according to when students indicated their intent to participate in the Putnam Competition. (For the past two years, all those who arrived at the exam were able to participate, as a result of others not appearing.)
Practice sessions and other Putnam-related events, fall 2018:
Tues., Oct 9: 4:45pm, DRL room 4E19 (recurrences, combinatorics, generating functions).
Wed., Oct. 17: 4:45pm, DRL room 4C6 (polynomials).
Tues., Oct 23: 5pm, DRL room 4E19 (mixed topics).
Sat., Oct. 27: 9-11:30am, DRL room 4E19: Virginia Tech Regional Math Contest (arrive by 8:45am to fill out registration form for this "mini-Putnam"; need to indicate interest in advance).
Thurs., Nov. 1, 5pm, DRL room 3C6 (induction, parity, and pigeonhole).
Wed., Nov. 7, 4:45pm, DRL room 4N30 (Cauchy-Schwarz and mean inequalities).
Mon., Nov, 12, 3:30pm, DRL room 4C2 (probability).
Fri., Nov. 16: mock Putnam exam, 3:30-5:30pm, DRL room 4E19.
Mon., Nov. 19: 3:30pm, DRL room 4C2 (convexity arguments and inequalities)
Wed., Nov. 28: 4:45pm, DRL room 4N30 (congruences).
Sat., Dec. 1: Putnam Exam Competition, 10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm, DRL room A6 (ground floor rear). Arrive early to each part, to fill out the registration form before the exam starts.