MIT wins Putnam Competition for third year in a row

For the third year in a row, MIT took first place in the 2015 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, widely viewed as one of the most prestigious college math competitions.  

The winning team consisted of Mark Sellke ’17, Bobby Shen ’17, and David Yang ’17, who were chosen ahead of time to represent MIT. The teams from Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard all trailed MIT, ranking second, third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Yang and Yunkun Zhou ’19 were named Putnam Fellows for being among the top six highest-ranking individuals. Yang also was a fellow in the 2013 and 2014 competitions. Danielle Wang ’19 received the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize, which is given to the top ranking female participant. Overall, MIT students performed extremely well in the 2015 Putnam, with 57 of the top 199 scorers being from the Institute. A total of 4,275 people participated in the competition.

The first place team’s university wins a monetary award of $25,000. Each member of the team receives $1,000. Putnam Fellows receive an additional windfall of $2,500. The recipient of the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam prize receives $1,000.

The Putnam consists of a six-hour exam with 12 problems, each worth 10 points. This year, the highest score was 99 out of 120 possible points, while the median score was one. Freshmen can prepare for the Putnam by taking 18.A34 (Problem Solving Seminar). Most recently, the fall 2015 class was taught by Peter Shor, a 1978 Putnam Fellow and Morss Professor of Applied Mathematics.