USA! USA! USA! American Math Prodigies Beat Out China, South Korea


We are once again the math champs of the world:

The U.S. edged out China by four points, 185-181. South Korea took third place.

The rankings were based on the number of points scored by individual team members on six problems. Students tackle the problems three at a time in 4.5 hour sessions over two days, according to the Mathematical Association of America, the organization behind the American team.

Five U.S. team members won gold medals: Ryan Alweiss, Allen Liu, Yang Liu, Shyam Narayanan and David Stoner. A sixth member, Michael Kural, missed gold by one point, settling for silver.

That’s a pretty testosterone-fueled team there. I expect it to launch a thousand tweets about how women just don’t have the innate cognitive skills to be good at higher level maths. Three…two….one….go!

There’s a college test that’s kind of the equivalent of this called the Putnam exam. It’s not a team event, you just take it individually. I took it in my freshman year and scored one point. All things considered, I figured that was pretty good since the median score on the Putnam is zero. My one point put me in the top half of all test takers!

It also convinced me that math was not my field. So eventually I ended up a political blogger. That’s what happens to people who score one point on the Putnam exam.