York math students rock at North American math competition

Undergraduate students in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics in the Faculty of Science performed brilliantly at the 2016 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. The students brought home York University’s best results since 1998. The competition was held in December 2016, but the results were only released in April of this year.

Yixin Chen

York undergrad student Yixin Chen placed 147 out of the more than 4,100 competitors, making him the first York student since 1998 to place in the top 200. Chen is a second-year math student and participated in the Putnam competition for his first time. Students from only four other Canadian universities managed to place in the top 200.

“The reason I study math is because, for me, math is the most elegant and fun thing in the world,” says Chen. “The elegant part comes slowly as you go through the journey of analysis, algebra and geometry, but you can experience the fun part immediately in competitions like Putnam. My experience at the competition was very memorable; the whole day, which I spent concentrating on the 12 interesting and difficult problems, without any disturbance, belonged purely to me and math.”

“Yixin demonstrated enthusiasm and a great potential at the training sessions for the Putnam competition, which I organized weekly during the fall semester of 2016,” says math and stats Professor Youness Lamzouri from the Faculty of Science. “I hope that he will continue his strong performance in the future, and I am confident that he will be an asset to the York Putnam team in the next few years.”

In addition, a team from York U consisting of students Stanislav Balchev, Samuel Dupuis and Justin Kim ranked 77 over 415 university teams – York’s best team ranking since 2001. A total of eight York students wrote the Putnam this year: Stanislav Balchev, Yixin Chen, Samuel Dupuis, Albi Kazazi, Justin Kim, Daniel Ruiz and Jordan Teitelbaum.

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is a mathematics competition for undergraduate college students in the United States and Canada. Administered by the Mathematical Association of America, the competition began in 1938 and takes place annually on the first Saturday of December. Although participants work independently on the problems, there is a team aspect to the competition as well.