You and your research or you and your studies for competitive math exams

You and your research ( You and your studies) : By Richard Hamming, AT and T, Bell Labs mathematician;

U.S. Team Takes First in 2016 IMO (International Mathematical Olympiad)

Friday, July 15 2016:

The U.S. team finished first with 214 points at the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in Hong Kong. All six members of the team– Ankan Bhattacharya (International Academy East, Troy, Michigan), Michael Kural (Greenwich High School, Riverside, Connecticut), Allen Liu (Penfield Senior High School, Penfield, New York), Junyao Peng (Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, Princeton, New Jersey), Ashwin Sah (Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon), and Yuan Yao (Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire)– earned gold medals. The team from the Republic of Korea earned 207 points and China finished third with 204 points. Three of the six U.S. team members are former contestants in Who Wants to Be a Mathematician (WWTBAM): Ankan Bhattacharya (2016 national champ), Michael Kural (2015 national contestant and a contestant at the Western Connecticut State University game), and Ashwin Sah (2014 winner at Oregon State University). All the participants on the U.S. team were selected through a series of competitions organized by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), culminating with the USA Mathematical Olympiad. The U.S. team leader was Po-Shen Loh of Carnegie Mellon University. See results of the 2016 IMO, which had more than 100 countries participating. The 2017 IMO will be July 12-24 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Three cheers to the American team of 2016 for cracking one of the most daunting, real mathematics challenge!!
Nalin Pithwa
The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in a different country. The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania, with 7 countries participating. It has gradually expanded to over 100 countries from 5 continents. The IMO Advisory Board ensures that the competition takes place each year and that each host country observes the regulations and traditions of the IMO.
Note: Some good source of problems for this examination  are the following:
1. The IMO Compendium (A Collection of Problems suggested for the International Mathematical Olympiads: 1956-2004) by Dusan Djukic, Vladimir Jankovic, Ivan Matic, Nikola Petrovic
2. International Mathematical Olympiad Volume I (1959-1975) by Istvan Reiman
3. International Mathematical Olympiad Volume II (1976-1990) by Istvan Reiman
4. International Mathematical Olympiad Volume III (1991-2004) by Istvan Reiman
5. Problem Solving Strategies by Arthur Engel
6. The USSR Olympiad Problem Book (Selected Problems and Theorems of Elementary Mathematics) by D. O. Shklarsky, N. N. Chentzov, and I. M. Yaglom
All the above books are available generally in Amazon India and Flipkart for cash-on-delivery.
The way for an Indian student to reach this IMO contest is to appear first for the Regional Mathematics Olympiad (RMO) conducted by TIFR/Homibhabha as explained further here: 
In India, the RMO will be held on Oct 9 2016. There will be no Pre-RMO this year.
This real IMO is not be confused with IMO conducted by SOF World, which is, Science Olympiad Foundation!

Sources of problems for the RMO, INMO, IMO

  1. IMAR Tests: These are a series of tests organized biannually by the Mathematics Institute of the Romanian Academy (IMAR). All students are invited, particularly those who  are interested in taking the IMO Team Selection Tests in the following year.
  2. 77 de Ture: This is a collection of 77 mathematics problems gathered from IMO team leaders from around the world. The Romanian IMO 2004 team used these problems as practice.
  3. MOSP: The US IMO team Math Olympiad Summer Program.
  4. JMBO: Junior Balkan Mathematics Olympiad.
  5. American Mathematical Monthly or AMM: This is probably the most important American mathematics periodical.
  6. Team Contest: These problems were given at a team contest organized in 2004 by several Romanian college students who were IMO veterans for their younger peers.
  7. Mathlinks Contest: This is the contest organized yearly (or biannually) by the Mathlinks forum.
  8. Romanian-Hungarian Training Camp: This is the yearly common IMO training of the Romanian and Hungarian teams. The camp lasts for one week and is organized alternatively by the two countries.
  9. William Lowell Putnam: This is the most important math competition organized in the USA for undergraduate students.

If you know some more sources, please share with us.


Nalin Pithwa







Announcement: A Full Scholarship Program

We are Mathematics Hothouse, Bangalore, We are pleased to announce that henceforth, every academic year, we will be admitting 5 students with full scholarship or 100% discount, from any part of India, who are talented, deserving or needy, to our program for RMO and INMO coaching. The coaching will be via on-line, live, video interactive Skype sessions mimicking traditional classroom or just classroom coaching or even correspondence course.

If you wish to apply, please write to


Nalin Pithwa

Training yourself for any Math Olympiad — RMO, INMO, IMO

Although you might have an expert coach or branded institution coaching you for the math or physics olympiads, the best thing is to be your own guru. What are the attitudes and/or regimen (of mind) needed to soar up your performance in Math or Physics Olympiads? I think the same applies for IIT JEE too, but perhaps, to a lesser degree. The following are some tips, which I like and I have compiled them from the net (especially American Math Olympiad websites) (especially, Prof. Kiran Kedlaya, MIT, Boston):

The term “olympiad” is used generically to refer to a math contest in which students are asked not to compute numerical answers, but to give proofs of specified statements. (Example: “Prove that 2003 is not the sum of two squares of integers.”) The most famous example is the International Mathematical Olympiad; most countries that participate at the IMO have national olympiads as part of their team selection process. Some areas have additional olympiads at the regional or local level.

The jump from short answers to olympiads is a tough one. Here are some tips for students making this transition.

  • Practice, practice, practice. The only way to learn math is by doing.
  • Proofs are essays. The better written a proof is, the more likely it is to be understood. Even such mundane things as grammar, spelling and handwriting are worth a bit of attention.
  • Define your terms. If you’re going to use a word in a way that might not be commonly understood, define it precisely. Then stick to your definition!
  • Read the masters. No one ever learned how to do good mathematics in a vacuum. When you do practice problems, read the solutions even of the problems you solved.
  • There’s more than one road. Different solutions can be equally valid; even when solutions agree in substance, differences in perspective can be significant and valuable.
  • It’s not over when it’s over. Don’t hesitate to continue thinking about the problems on a contest after the time ends, or to discuss the problems with others.
  • Learn from your peers. They’re smarter than you might have expected.
  • Learn from the past. Try to relate new problems to old ones; you may learn something from the similarities, or from the differences.
  • Patience. No one said this was easy!

If you like this, please do send a thank you note to Prof. Kiran Kedlaya (kedlaya ‘at’ mathdotmitdotedu) :-))

More later,

Nalin Pithwa