The Putnam Exam is the most prestigious and difficult mathematical competition for undergraduate students in the United States and Canada. It is administered simultaneously on the first Saturday in December at about 500 participating colleges. There is no fee to take the exam and its results are kept confidential. The test consists of two three-hour sessions separated by a lunch break. If you enjoy problem solving, want to challenge yourself and meet like-minded people, think about a career of a mathematician, consider taking the Putnam Exam.

To participate in the Exam, you have to reserve a seat in SEPTEMBER (i.e. very early!) by simply e-mailing Prof. Tevelev that you want to take it.

We also invite you to attend a weekly Putnam Exam preparation seminar Math 491A. The goal of this very informal workshop is to improve your problem-solving skills. The worksheets are distributed weekly, and in class we have (sometimes very heated!) discussions of various approaches to these problems. We learn how to start solving a problem, how to separate worthy ideas from dead ends, how to use standard proof techniques and numerous tricks.

If you have never taken this class before, you will have to enroll on SPIRE (for 1 credit). If you have taken this class before, you can participate without registering. The class is very informal and run mostly by students themselves. Sometimes we have joint events with the Math Club. The grade in 491A is assigned based on class participation: to get an A, it suffices to attend every week, be active in class, and take the Putnam Exam in December.

The (optional) textbook for this class is

Worksheets from 2014

On September 3 we are going to start brainstorming some problems

On October 15 we are going to re-examine previous worksheets. Focus on harder problems.

We will have a mock Putnam exam at 6:30pm on Monday, Nov 24 in LGRT 1234. There will be 4 problems, the exam will last 2 hours.

The Putnam competition will take place on Saturday Dec 6 in LGRT 1234. There will be two sessions: Session A 10am-1pm and Session B 3pm-6pm. All students should take both sessions. Each session will feature 6 problems. I suggest that you arrive to both sessions 10 minutes early to fill the paperwork.

Bonus worksheets

You can find out more about the history of the Putnam Competition at http://math.scu.edu/putnam/index.html.

Problems, solutions, and winners of recent competitions are available at http://kskedlaya.org/putnam-archive/.

Tips for the prof.

I was assigned to coordinate the Putnam exam and teach Math 491A. What do I do?