2020 YorkU Putnam Training

General Information on the Putnam:
The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is the preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students in the United States and Canada. The Putnam Competition takes place annually on the first Saturday of December (* see COVID updated below). The competition consists of two 3-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During each session, participants work individually on 6 challenging mathematical problems.

The Putnam began in 1938 as a competition between mathematics departments at colleges and universities. Now the competition has grown to be the leading university-level mathematics examination in the world. Although participants work independently on the problems, there is a team aspect to the competition as well. Each institution with at least three participants identifies three participants who comprise its team. Prizes are awarded to the participants with the highest scores and to the departments of mathematics of the five institutions whose teams obtain the highest rankings.

The competition is open only to regularly enrolled undergraduates, in colleges and universities of the United States and Canada, who have not yet received a college degree. No individual may participate in the competition more than four times. Each problem is graded on a basis of 0 to 10 points. All the necessary work to justify an answer and all the necessary steps of a proof must be shown clearly to obtain full credit. Some partial credit may be given, but only when a contestant has shown significant and substantial progress toward a solution.

COVID Update:
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the 81st Putnam Competition, originally scheduled for Fall 2020, has been postponed until February 20, 2021. The competition will proceed in an unofficial mode, with no proctors, no prices, no awards, and no national recognition of high-scoring individuals or teams.  Students will administer the exam themselves via an online platform. The solution papers will be uploaded by participants themselves for grading. Scores will be reported back privately to the individual participants and the local supervisor of each institution will receive a report of the scores of the students for that institution.

Because of the unofficial nature of this year's competitions, participation this cycle will not count toward the four-times limit. Moreover, students who obtained their bachelor's degree in December 2020 are still eligible to participate in February 2021.

Students can now register for the Putnam Competition at http://aops.com/contests/putnam/student.  Please select York University as your institution when you register as there are usually departmental awards for the highest scoring participants at York University every year.

How the Contest Will be Run:
The competition is administered in two sessions (A and B). Each session lasts exactly three hours. Participants will have an additional hour to scan and upload their solutions. Participants may start the A session on Feb. 20 anytime between 10:00 a.m. EST and 11:59 p.m. EST.  After completing the A session, participants may take a break for as long as they wish; however, the B session must start no later than 6:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 21.   

On Feb. 20, click here to enter the competition platform.

For each of the 12 problems, participants will handwrite their work on plain sheets of unlined paper and then scan their work and submit one or more pages in PDF format for each solution they have attempted. Writing utensils, blank paper, and erasers are permitted, but other materials, such as books, calculators, computers, rulers, compass, lined paper, or graph paper, are not permitted.

Participants are prohibited from sharing or discussing the competition problem until 10:00 a.m. EST on Feb. 21. There is to be no copying, posting, or distributing the exam until after this time. Learn more here.

Training Sessions:

The YorkU training sessions for the 2020 Putnam Competition will be held online every other Monday from 4:30-6:00, starting September 21st until November 30th, and resuming January 11th, 2021.  Please contact me in order to obtain the Zoom link.

Each training session will centre around a specific mathematical theme.  We will begin with discussing necessary concepts, techniques, and strategies, and a set of related problems will be given.  Students will have some time to solve the problems during the session and will try to solve the remaining problems at home.  The session will end with students presenting solutions to the problems from either the current or previous session.

Training Materials:

Day 1:      Information
Week 1:   Concepts   Problems
Week 2:   Concepts   Problems
Week 3:   Concepts   Problems
Week 4:   Concepts   Problems
Week 5:   Concepts   Problems
Week 6:   Concepts   Problems
Week 7:   Concepts   Problems
Week 8:   Concepts   Problems
Week 9:   Concepts   Problems

Zoom Session Recordings for Asynchronous Engagement:

Passport York login required!
Week 1:    Video
Week 2:    Video
Week 3:    Video
Week 4:    Video
Week 5:    Video
Week 6:    Video
Week 7:    Video
Week 8:    Video
Week 9:    Video

Additional Resources:

Putnam Webpage
John Schole's Website contains all problems and solutions to the Putnam exams between 1938 and 2003.
Kiran Kedlaya's Website contains all problems and solutions to the Putnam exams between 1995 and the present.