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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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