Seven proved to be a lucky number this year for the Brigham Young University Mathematics Department. History was made when the William Lowell Putnam Competition announced that this year’s BYU math team won seventh in the nation. This record-breaking achievement is the pinnacle standard in showcasing the talents of a university’s mathematics program. In 2010, the Math Department broke into the top twenty for the first time with a 16th place win. The Putnam Competition is a prestigious competitive examination that draws more than 500 universities and thousands of undergraduate students to compete each year.

Each school is allowed three members to represent the university team. Led by Professor Tiancheng Ouyang, this year’s team comprised of Peter H. Baratta, Samuel Dittmer, and Hiram Golze; all mathematics majors. Forty other students from BYU competed on an individual basis.

High individual performances were also achieved this year. Hiram Golze received the highest individual ranking of 49th in the nation with a score of 50 points. Samuel Dittmer and Peter Baratta both received national rankings of 97th with a test score of 41 points. This six-hour test consisting of twelve questions usually has a median score of zero.

“The Putnam Competition is extremely high-profile – it is the gold standard for competitions in Mathematics. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment! This ranking will help us immensely in making others aware of what a remarkably strong undergraduate mathematics program we have here at BYU.” says Dr. Robin Roundy, Department Chair.

He further adds, “We are very proud of the students who competed in this exam! In addition to the three official team members, a good number of other BYU students obtained excellent scores. The faculty involved, Professors Tiancheng Ouyang, Pace Nielsen, David Wright and Gary Lawlor, are also warmly commended.”

The William Lowell Putnam Competition first began in 1938 and was created to provide a setting in which colleges and universities could compete against one another in mathematical studies. The competition is under the administration of the Mathematical Association of America. For more details regarding this competition, go to www.math.scu.edu/putnam/.