Sunday, March 28, 2010

NYSML on Saturday April 10

Albany Area Math Circle is proud and honored to be the host team for the New York State Math League (NYSML) annual state championship math meet to be held on Saturday April 10, 2010 at the University at Albany.

We'll provide an overview of the day's events here:

7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Teams from all over the state arrive at UAlbany's uptown campus. Detailed directions are available here. Buses and cars can drop students off at the Collins Circle main entrance (the big circular main driveway shown below).

Here's a nifty-looking building you'll see near where the buses drop you off that can help you to orient yourself on a campus where there are many deceptively similar buildings and a great deal of symmetry. (We won't actually be using this building, but it's a useful landmark, since it's distinctive and near the bus stop. It's building #15 on the map.) If you're curious about the unusual wavy mirrored design of this environmentally designed building, you can read more about it here.

Students and coaches should proceed immediately on foot to the Campus Center (shown as the blue triangle on the map above.) This will be the headquarters for the entire day: opening and closing ceremonies will happen here and the grading process and coaches meeting will also happen in this building. Here's what the Campus Center looks like:

Teams arriving between 7 and 8 a.m. will be able to purchase continental breakfast items in the Campus Center food court and can enjoy socializing with other teams from around the state while their coaches check in their teams at the registration area on the top level. (Coaches should place orders in advance for their teams if they want to take advantage of this option. Details on how to do so are below.) Weather permitting they may enjoy the enclosed garden court seating area adjacent to the food court, but there's also lots of comfortable indoor seating area as well.

By 8:15 coaches and students should be getting seated in assigned areas in the ballroom on the top level of the Campus Center. All students are asked to sit in specifically designated areas so your campus guides can easily lead you to your next location.

8:30 Opening Ceremony in the Ballroom officially begins on the top level of the Campus Center

8:45 Teams are dismissed in a particular order to accompany their guides to their assigned classrooms for Team and Power Rounds. The assigned classrooms are in three buildings: Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences, all close to the Campus Center as you can see below.

The room numbering system and floor layout is a bit confusing, so please make sure to stay with your assigned guides. Your team sign will be a big help in making sure you and your guide manage to stay together, so please make sure to bring it with you.

When a team reaches its assigned classroom, you will see a sign on the classroom door welcoming the team by name. The Team Captain should sign the door sign in the designated place. The Team Proctor assigned to the team should also sign the door in the designated place. That way the Zone Proctor will easily be able to check that all rooms have Team Proctors, and everyone will know the names of the key people involved.

9:00 Team Round Begins--Team proctors will monitor this round.

9:20 Team Round End--Team proctors will collect the Team Round answer sheet/take a brief stretch break/and distribute the Power Round Question to the team, making a note of the time.

Team proctors will report the start time for the Power Round to the Zone Proctor, who will note it on the door sign. Team Proctors will bring the Team Round answers to turn in at the Coaches' Meeting.

9:30 Power Round begins

During the Power Round, Team Proctors will be at the Coaches Meeting in the Campus Center, but Zone Proctors will remain on duty to finish administration of the Power Round.

10:30 Power Round ends Zone proctors will collect Power Round answers from team captains and turn them into the Power Round grading room.

UAlbany student guides will conduct students to the Physical Education building. This is easily a 10 minute walk--a good time to munch on a snack and/or drink some water from your water bottle as you go!

Okay, so now you and your team are in the Physical Education Building, where you will be taking the Individual and Relay Rounds. Your guides will help you find your team's assigned seats quickly. As at Penn State ARML, you will be seated on bleachers, NOT at desks. Each team will need to bring its own lapboards or clipboards for all its team members, so you will have a hard surface to write on!

After relays, it is time to head over to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) for a presentation by Professor Vince LaBella, UAlbany's "Spin Doctor." We are grateful to CNSE for sponsoring NYSML by providing a great speaker as well as lunch at their beautiful new complex.

Here's some information from Prof. Labella's research group's website about their work :

The familiar property of magnetism arises from the spin of the electron or its intrinsic angular momentum. The spin of the electron has tremendous impact far beyond holding artwork to a refrigerator. For example, the skyrocketing increase in storage capacity of modern hard disk drives is fueled by the invention of giant magneto resistive (GMR) read heads. These GMR devices were invented after scientists became familiar with how currents of spin polarized electrons travel (or scatter) in ferromagnetic materials. Researchers are now interested in utilizing the spin of the electron in semiconductor devices for data processing. There is hope that these new spintronic devices will operate at higher speeds and consume less power than conventional devices, helping extend Moore's Law in the post-CMOS era.

Students will be divided into two groups at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering: one group will hear the presentation before lunch and the other will hear the presentation after lunch. Lunch choices will be a turkey or veggie sub.

Following the presentation and lunch, everyone will head back to the Campus Center for Buzz Round, Tiebreaks, Awards, and Closing Ceremony. The plan is to wrap up by 3:30.

Buses can pick students up at Collins Circle, where they dropped them off in the morning, so head back towards the mirrored building pictured at the top and you'll be on your way home, hopefully with many happy mathematical memories of the day and some new math friends as well.

Important advice:

1) Bring snacks and water! Lunch will be on the late side compared to past NYSML schedules, because relays will happen before lunch. Also, there's lot more walking than usual, so you need to keep your energy up.

2) Create a great team sign and bring it with you to help your guides find you and keep you with them. Remember that the Art of Problem Solving has donated $240 in gift certificates which will be awarded to teams with the most mathematically interesting and creative signs.

3) Don't forget the lapboards or clipboards! You will need a hard surface to write on.

4) Umbrellas and waterproof jackets are a good idea in case the weather is less than excellent at some point during the day. You will be spending a lot of time walking around outside.

5) Coaches whose students want to get breakfast at the Campus Center Food Court on Saturday morning should contact Kathleen Straniello at Chartwells to place advance orders. Her email is and her phone number is 518-442-5985.

6) Teams arriving the evening before can purchase dinner at the Campus Center Food Court as well. Wendy's and Zepps will be open until 9 p.m.

Thanks to our sponsors:

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE)

The Bieber Family

UAlbany Undergraduate Admissions

The New York City Math Teachers Circle

Art of Problem Solving

Tough Traveler®

Sustaining Friends and Families of Albany Area Math Circle:

Robert P. Ingalls, Mukkai Krishnamoorthy, Mary O'Keeffe,
Ardito family, Babbitt family, Bieber family, Biswas-Mukerjee family, Hickey family, Guo family, Kaur family, Law family, Lesh-Shreiner family, Liu family, Liu-Gu family, Parizh family, Pelkey family, Reitz family, Scheib-Holodak family, Smith family, Sun family, Tanadve family, Tolpadi family, Wang family, White family

Contributing Families of Albany Area Math Circle:

Buff family, Cao family, Chen family, Foyt family, Hammar family, Hsu family, Ingalls family, Job family, Li family, Magai family, Monteith family, Ogawa family, Parower family, Rapaport family, Richman family, Rubin family, Rusak family, Soedjak family, Wajda family, Xu family

Saturday, March 27, 2010

NYSML 2010 is two weeks away

Are you in the picture?

The picture above shows students who have signed up for NYSML using our signup form. (Ved, whose name is not in the picture above, is also signed up! For some reason, keeps reverting to default to eliminate common Norwegian words, which includes "ved.")

Make sure to review the information below. More information will be coming soon.


Congratulations to Mr. Babbitt!

Albany Area Math Circle advisor Bill Babbitt has been accepted into the PhD program in Multidisciplinary Science at RPI.

This excellent news arrived yesterday, an especially auspicious and appropriate day, because it was the birthday of Paul Erdős, a brilliant mathematician who came out of the Hungarian tradition of math circles and whose life work embodied two central values of Albany Area Math Circle, collaboration and mentoring younger students.

Charles Krautheimer's tribute in the Washington Post describes Paul Erdős' devotion to those values especially well:

He seemed sentenced to a life of solitariness from birth, on the day of which his two sisters, age 3 and 5, died of scarlet fever, leaving him an only child, doted upon and kept at home by a fretful mother. Hitler disposed of nearly all the rest of his Hungarian Jewish family. And Erdös never married. His Washington Post obituary ends with this abrupt and rather painful line: "He leaves no immediate survivors."

But in reality he did: hundreds of scientific collaborators and 1,500 mathematical papers produced with them. An astonishing legacy in a field where a lifetime product of 50 papers is considered quite extraordinary.


Erdös was unusual in yet one other respect. The notion of the itinerant, eccentric genius, totally absorbed in his own world of thought, is a cliche that almost always attaches to the adjective "anti-social." From Bobby Fischer to Howard Hughes, obsession and misanthropy seem to go together.

Not so Erdös. He was gentle, open and generous with others. He believed in making mathematics a social activity. Indeed, he was the most prolifically collaborative mathematician in history. Hundreds of colleagues who have published with him or been advised by him can trace some breakthrough or insight to an evening with Erdös, brain open.


Erdös didn't just share his genius. He shared his money. It seems comical to say so because he had so little. But, in fact, it is rather touching. He had so little because he gave away everything he earned. He was a soft touch for whatever charitable or hard-luck cause came his way. In India, he once gave away the proceeds from a few lectures he had delivered there to Ramanujan's impoverished widow.

A few years ago, Graham tells me, Erdös heard of a promising young mathematician who wanted to go to Harvard but was short the money needed. Erdös arranged to see him and lent him $1,000. (The sum total of the money Erdös carried around at any one time was about $30.) He told the young man he could pay it back when he was able to. Recently, the young man called Graham to say that he had gone through Harvard and now was teaching at Michigan and could finally pay the money back. What should he do?

Graham consulted Erdös. Erdös said, "Tell him to do with the $1,000 what I did."

No survivors indeed.

Mr. Babbitt will be working under the direction of RPI Professors Ron Eglash and Mukkai Krishnamoorthy. Professor Eglash has an Erdos number of 3, via his collaboration with Albany Area Math Circle advisorProfessor Krishnamoorthy, who has an Erdos number of 2.

What a wonderful legacy and tradition.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ARML Power Contest Results

February ARML Power Contest results have been posted: Albany Area Math Circle tied for second place in the February round among the 60-plus teams that participated in the contest. Combining that awesome result with the AAMC tie for 8th place in the November round gave Albany Area Math Circle a tie for fourth place overall for the year! The top ten teams on the list below will receive trophies at ARML in June.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

State MATHCOUNTS highlights

Congratulations to all the terrific students from all over the state who competed at MATHCOUNTS on Saturday, and especially to the first place team, Bay Trails, whose students and coaches are shown above. Their coach will coach the New York State Team at the National MATHCOUNTS Competition to be held in Orlando Florida in May.

Allen Liu from the Bay Trails team, shown at the front center in the top photo above and at left in the photo immediately above, won first place on the individual rankings. Allen made NYS MATHCOUNTS history as the first sixth grader ever to win the state championship.

Congratulations also to all the top scorers on the written portion of the contest. Shown above are Maria Geba with eighth place trophy, Aniket Tolpadi from Albany Area Math Circle with fifth place trophy, Allen Liu with first place trophy, Richard Yip with fourth place trophy, Bailey Liao with third place trophy, and Thomas Dunbach with second place trophy. Shown below are students with the remainder of the top ten trophies. Albany Area Math Circle's Matthew Gu is at left holding the tenth place trophy. I am still not sure of the names and ranks of the remaining top ten students. (If their coaches email me with their names and ranks at, I would be happy to edit this post to recognize them here. We also hope to see many of them at NYSML next month.)

All told, Albany Area Math Circle had four students in the top 20 including Cecilia Holodak (Van Antwerp Middle School) and Philip Sun (Acadia Middle School), as well as Aniket Tolpadi from Iroquois Middle School and Matt Gu from Farnsworth Middle School.

Trophies were awarded to the top six teams. Iroquois is shown above with their sixth place team trophies and their student coach Anagha Tolpadi. Team members were Vineet Vinandula, Shreya Arora, Suman Padhi, Norman Xiong (alternate), and Aniket Tolpadi (Captain). Albany Area Math Circle member Elizabeth Parizh also helped to coach the team.

Acadia's team (shown below) was right behind Iroquois on the honor list in seventh place. Albany Area Math Circle students Felix Sun and Eric Wang coached the Acadia team, whose members included: Troy Wang, David Luo, Jerry Qu, and Philip Sun.

Van Antwerp also finished very well, placing on the honor list in the top third of the participating teams. The photo below shows Albany Area Math Circle student coach Dave Bieber with team captain/high scorer Cecilia Holodak and Martin Shreiner. Other students on their team includes Rajesh Bollapragada and William Wei.

Other students from our middle school math circles competing at state included Jien Ogawa from Home Educators Enrichment Group and Thomas Glozman from Maple Avenue Middle School in Saratoga Springs (Tri-County Chapter.) We are proud of all of you.

NOTE: The results above did not come directly from the computer-printed scoresheets handed out after the contest, because those sheets had some errors and inconsistencies. I have still not received a clear and consistent top 20 student and team list from NYS MATHCOUNTS officials, but I know the reputation of the veteran scoring team and I am confident they carefully checked the results for the top team and top four students very carefully by hand before the trophies were handed out. I used coaches' notes and photos from the awards ceremony to reconstruct the results above. Other coaches are invited to let me know of any errors or omissions in my reporting by sending email to

Monday, March 15, 2010

Aniket Tolpadi

A remarkable sportsmanship you displayed on Saturday.
Nice disposition to Mathematics you have been showing all along.
Incredible maturity you have.
Knack to do complex mathematical problems -in your head so fast - you have this too.
Excellent performance in the recent NYSML tournament - you did
These are a few of the qualities you have

Many more productive mathematical and scientific years to you.

Acrostic composed by Professor Moorthy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Former math olympian shares the biggest prize in medicine

In 1974, Eric Lander was a high school student in New York State. Thanks to the advocacy of Professor Nura Turner from what is now the University at Albany (then called Albany State Teachers' College), he had the opportunity to be on the first US team to represent our country at the International Math Olympiad, where he won a silver medal.

Now he is the President of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Today's Albany Times Union reports that he won a share of the biggest prize in medicine in this country:

ALBANY -- Three scientists who led the effort to map the human genome will receive the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research. The prize winners were announced today by James J. Barba, president of Albany Medical Center and chairman of the prize selection committee.

The winners are David Botstein, PhD., director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University; Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; and Eric Steven Lander, PhD., president of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The researchers will share the $500,000 prize, the largest award in medicine in the United States. They will receive the prize on April 23 during a ceremony at Albany Medical Center.

The three scientists are responsible for proposing the idea of mapping the human genome, discovering the techniques to carry it out and managing the project to completion.

Botstein, a geneticist, was among the first to propose the concept of building a complete genetic map of humans. In 1980, he and three colleagues described how to make a detailed map of the genetic diseases caused by just one gene. His idea and mapping techniques laid the groundwork for the project.

Lander, a mathematician, developed advanced gene-mapping techniques and, in 1987, described how to map complex multi-gene diseases like diabetes and heart disease. His lab was a leading contributor to the project.

Collins, a physician and biologist, developed a technique for identifying particular disease-related genes known as positional cloning. With collaborators, he made the landmark 1989 discovery of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. In 1993, Collins was named director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health and oversaw the Human Genome Project to its completion in 2003.

If you're curious about his path from mathematics to biology, check out this New York Times article.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Congratulations to Albany Area AIME qualifiers

AIME Qualifiers:

Andrew Ardito 126/120 (homeschool)
Matthew Babbitt 121 (homeschool)
Dave Bieber 115.5/118.5 (Niskayuna High School)
Shiwen (Heidi) Chen 111 (Emma Willard School)
So Yeun (Ashley) Cho 115.5 (Emma Willard School)
Peixuan Guo 106.5 (Bethlehem High School)
Gurtej Kanwar 106.5 (Bethlehem High School)
Preston Law 108 (homeschool)
Jeemin (Ann) Lim 88.5 (Emma Willard School)
Zubin Mukerjee 90 (Guilderland High School)
Adam Parower 91.5/100.5 (Shaker High School)
Paul Rapoport 94.5 (Albany Academy)
Gili Rusak 90 (Shaker Junior High School)
Schuyler Smith 117/127.5 (homeschool)
Felix Sun 108/100.5 (Shenendehowa High School)
Aniket Tolpadi 88.5 (Iroquois Middle School)
Jay White 97.5/99/100% on USAMTS (homeschool)
Jenny Xie 95 (Shenendehowa High School)

All of the students listed above qualified for the American Invitational Math Exam based on AMC12A and/or AMC12B scores. Both contests were exceptionally difficult this year.

The AMC10A and AMC10B contests were also exceptionally challenging this year. Although we do not know of any AIME qualifiers on the 10A or 10B this year, we would like to congratulate the following students who were high scorers in our area for their outstanding performances on the contests.

AMC10 high scorers:

Zhixing (Wanwan) Fei (Emma Willard School) 114 on 10A
Greg Hickey (Shaker High School) 114 on 10B
Elizabeth Parizh (Niskayuna High School) 112.5 on 10B
Zubin Mukerjee (Guilderland High School) 111 on 10A
Philip Sun (Acadia Middle School) 106.5 on 10B
Gili Rusak (Shaker Junior High) 105 on 10A
Wyatt Smith (homeschool) 105 on 10A and 10B
Preston Law (homeschool) 103.5 on 10B
Aniket Tolpadi (Iroquois Middle School) 102 on 10A
Jien Ogawa (homeschool) 99 on 10A
William Wang (Farnsworth Middle School) 96 on 10A
Gabe Holodak (Niskayuna High School) 96 on 10B
Cecilia Holodak (Van Antwerp Middle School) 94.5 on 10B
Hannah Liu (Guilderland High School) 94.5 on 10B

PS If there's anyone omitted because I didn't receive results from contests taken at their school, or to accidental oversight, please let me know and I'll happily add them!

Images above created in

Saturday, March 6, 2010

NYSML 2010 is five weeks away!

Are you in the picture?

Albany Area Math Circle students listed in the picture above have already signed up to participate in NYSML on Saturday April 10.

Albany Area Math Circle members who plan to participate should use the form at this link to sign up!