Math Club prepares to compete in upcoming Princeton University Math Competition


Katherine Zhang

Math Club members work on practice problems for the Princeton University Mathematics Competition. The competition will take place on Nov. 18.

by Saloni Shah, Reporter

The Math Club will compete in Princeton University Mathematics Competition (PUMaC) on Nov. 18. PUMaC is a student-run math competition organized since 2006 to motivate high school students to both enjoy the study of and foster a love for mathematics. About 70 teams from across the nation participate each year in the on-site PUMaC competition.

The team of eight Harker students from the Math Club participating in PUMaC is comprised of senior Swapnil Garg; juniors Katherine Tian and Michael Wang; sophomores Cynthia Chen, Rohan Cherukuri, Rishi Dange and Jeffrey Kwan and freshman Utkarsh Priyam.

PUMaC consists of four parts: Power Round, Individual Test, Team Test and Live Round.

The Power Round is an off-site introduction to proof based mathematics to the team a week before the competition. PUMaC is different from other math competitions because of the week long Power Round before the contest about problems related to specific math concepts like elliptic curves and group theory in 2015, cryptography and mathematics behind cryptographic systems in 2016.

“Other competitions have hour long power round during the actual competition so you don’t get to go in-depth, but [for PUMaC] you get to work with the team for a whole week and bond,” team captain Swapnil said.

In the Individual Test, each participant takes two tests from four subject areas: Algebra, Combinatorics, Geometry and Number Theory. Each individual test is 60 minutes long and has eight questions.

The Team Test is an on-site collaboration amongst team members on non-proof based problems for 30 minutes. The Live Round is a team round with a live scoreboard to generate competitive spirit. The top 10 finalists in each individual test are invited for the Individual Finals. There are three proof-based problems to be solved in 60 minutes.

There will also be some mini events for the participants to have fun and enjoy the event like puzzle hunt, Rubik’s cube, math bowl, and chess and board games.

“I’m really excited for the competition since I think it will be a rewarding experience,” team member Cynthia Chen said. “I’ll be able to learn more math as well as bond with my team members.”

For the past few weeks, the team has been preparing for the competition by reviewing problem solving techniques, practicing in teams for the Team Test, and working on individual tests.

“We do practice problem sets and meet once a week to work on problems or team rounds together,” Katherine said.

When upper school students last attended this competition in 2015, the team placed 19th, and the members aim to beat the prior record this year.

“We hope to possibly break top ten this year,” Swapnil said. “That’s our main goal.”

Other than the math competition, the team also has the option to compete in the Princeton University Physics Competition on Nov. 19.