William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

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.

Putnam Mathematical Competition Hall of Fame, 1988 — 2005

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