The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, run by the Mathematical Association of America (http://www.maa.org), is a prestigious competition for undergraduate students of mathematics. Begun in 1938, the competition is designed to stimulate a healthy rivalry amongst the colleges and universities of the United States and Canada.
The competition is held each year on the first Saturday in December and is open to regularly enrolled undergraduates in the United States and Canada who have not yet received their degrees. The five highest ranking individuals are designated as Putnam Fellows and their departments receive cash awards. Each year, one Putnam Fellow receives a scholarship to attend graduate studies at Harvard or Radcliffe. The Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize is awarded for "particularly meritorious" performance by a woman contestant. Locally, the Mathematical Sciences Department at Villanova offers a prize of a one-year student membership in the Mathematical Association of America to the highest ranking Villanovan contestant.
One constant of the Putnam Math Competition is the maximum possible score: 120 points. One quite relevant variable of the Competition is its overall difficulty, which results in a variability in the percentage ranking that a given score will achieve. I have chosen here to list the best performances by Villanova students in descending order of score rather than by percentile, though comparisons by percentile will inevitably be made. An asterisk (*) indicates that the contestant was mentioned individually in the official report of the Competition results. Typically, this honor accrues to the top 500 contestants.
Between 1988 (the 49th annual Putnam) and 2005 (the 66th), we had 60 participants, counting multiplicities. We have had three three-time contestants: Jennifer Holefelder(1990-1992; 22 points), Christopher Pilman (1998-2000; 60 points), and Will Entriken (2003-2005; 15 points). Our single best team effort came in 1991, when five students combined for 55 points; three of those students scored in double figures. Two students, both in double figures, combined for 41 points in 1988, and two students, one in double figures, garnered 39 points in 1998.
I hope you enjoy this small piece of the history of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Villanova University. If you are currently an undergraduate, I hope you will consider becoming part of this tradition and try to get your name into the Hall of Fame.
|Contestant||Score (out of 120)||Rank||% Rank||Competition; Date|
|Christopher Pilman *||30||410/2581||15.9 %||59th annual; Dec. 5, 1998|
|Daniel Gries *||30||368/2325||15.9 %||52nd annual; Dec. 7, 1991|
|George Wyatt||21||744.5/2096||35.6 %||49th annual; Dec. 3, 1988|
|Christopher Pilman *||20||245/2818||8.7 %||61st annual; Dec. 2, 2000|
|Christine Wilson *||20||329.5/2510||13.2 %||58th annual; Dec. 6, 1997|
|Dan Thompson||20||885/2096||42.3 %||49th annual; Dec. 3, 1988|
|Will Entriken||12||715.5/3545||20.2 %||66th annual; Dec. 3, 2005|
|Anthony Lehman||12||691/2314||29.9 %||55th annual; Dec. 3, 1994|
|Timothy Pollis||12||1011/2325||43.5 %||52nd annual; Dec. 7, 1991|
|Jennifer Holefelder||11||1135/2325||48.9 %||52nd annual; Dec. 7, 1991|
|Christopher Pilman||10||729/2900||25.2 %||60th annual; Dec. 4, 1999|
|Vincent Costanzo||10||729/2900||25.2 %||60th annual; Dec. 4, 1999|
|Daniel Drabik||10||970/2954||32.9 %||62nd annual; Dec. 1, 2001|
|Jennifer Holefelder||10||777.5/2347||33.2 %||51st annual; Dec. 1, 1990|
|Daniel Drabik||9||1453.5/3349||43.4 %||63rd annual; Dec. 7, 2002|
|Jeanne Carton||9||1168/2468||47.4 %||56th annual; Dec. 2, 1995|
|Rob Lupinacci||9||1168/2468||47.4 %||56th annual; Dec. 2, 1995|
|Vincent Costanzo||9||1444.5/2581||56.0 %||59th annual; Dec. 5, 1998|