MIT victorious at 83rd Putnam Mathematical Competition

MIT students claim the five Putnam Fellows and 14 out of the top 16 spots

MIT won the 2022 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a prestigious math competition for undergraduate students in North America and Canada.

Since 2019, MIT has claimed all five of the highest-ranking spots, known as Putnam Fellows. The Putnam Fellows for this year’s competition were Daniel Zhu ’23, Minyang Deng ’24, Brian Liu ’25, Papon Lapate ’26, and Luke Robitaille ’26. Zhu has been honored as a fellow every year that he has competed.

Of the next 11 highest scorers, nine are from MIT. In all, 70 of the top 100 participants in the competition were from MIT, a marked increase from past competitions. 

Additionally, Binwei Yan ’24 received the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize for the highest-scoring female competitor; since 2018, the Lowell Putnam Prize has been awarded to an MIT student.  

Yufei Zhao SB’10 PhD ’15, a professor of mathematics and a former Putnam participant, teaches the Putnam Seminar (18.A34), a first-year seminar designed to help students prepare for the contest. In an email to the Tech, Zhao said that “our students have worked hard to achieve this outstanding performance, and we are extremely proud of their achievements.” 

The Putnam Competition, a six-hour-long 12 question-long exam, was held on Dec. 3, 2022. All questions on the Putnam are proof-based. The median score was one out of 120 possible points, according to MIT News

“They [the organizers] held the test in Walker Memorial and it was all full, so it had a similar feel to a final,” said Garrett Heller ’26, a Putnam competitor who received an Honorable Mention.

With regards to preparation, many of the competitors have a contest math background dating back to high school. Heller said that he “prepared quite a decent bit for the Putnam” by studying past Putnam exams. 

Putnam results can be found at the website of Mathematical Association of America, which administered the exam.