Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter holiday mathematics

Albany Area Math Circle is taking a brief break from our regular Friday evening meetings, but that doesn't mean we aren't surrounded by wonderful mathematics, so here are some treasures to share with your friends and family members.  I would love to hear from other math circle members about interesting mathematical aspects of their cultures.  I am sure there are many that I do not know about.

Last night was the last of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  There is all sorts of fun math in Hanukkah, such as figuring out how many candles you need in a box to cover all eight nights of Hanukkah, which will be one less than a triangular number.  There are many fun combinatorics problems to construct and explore as well.  How many different color combinations can be constructed if you have n different colors of candles available?

Today's Albany Times Union had a great mathematics of Hanukkah story, A one-in-trillions dreidel game, about a remarkable string of luck by a first-time dreidel player, who managed to spin the four-sided top 68 consecutive times without ever seeing the losing side come up and winning the entire pot 56 of those spins.  This inspired his great-nephew, a Princeton sophomore studying operations research and financial engineering, to pull out his calculator to compute the astronomically large odds against such a long streak of good luck.

There are several ways to model this probability calculation and it would be interesting to discuss the pros and cons of each approach.  One simple possibility is to compute the likelihood of never losing in 68 spins, which would be 1 - (3/4)68, which works out to 1 in 22.5 trillion.  You can make the odds even more astronomical if you also consider the likelihood that he actually wins the pot on 56 of those 68 non-losing spins, because the remaining three sides are equally likely to come up, and only one of those spins yields the entire pot to the spinner.

Of course, this kind of analysis gives rise to interesting philosophical discussions of the sort that physicist Richard Feynman raised in his book, The Meaning of It All:  Reflections of a Citizen Scientist, when he talked about the probability of seeing a particular license plate in a parking lot as well as the work of Stanford mathematician Persi Diaconis on the mathematics of coincidences.

Moving onto Christmas, we are currently in the midst of the fabled "Twelve Days of Christmas," as memorialized in the song that starts with one gift given on the first day (December 25, "a partridge in a pear tree"),  three gifts given on the second day (December 26, "two turtle doves" plus another "partridge in a pear tree"), and so on through the twelfth day (January 6, which happens to be our next math circle meeting date!)

John Cook at the Endeavor blog has a great post on the mathematics of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  He observes that the total number of gifts received each day is a triangular number and also notes that the cumulative number of gifts received through the end of each day is a tetrahedral number.   He has written up several nice proofs demonstrating that this is true in general, and he also includes a wonderful link and illustration from the Math is Fun blog

The Math is Fun blog's illustration at right is a great way to illustrate the triangular/tetrahedral nature of the 12 Days of Christmas song for your younger friends and relatives.   The image shows the situation for the first five days of Christmas, with the top layer representing the number of presents given on the first day (1), the next layer representing the number of presents given on the second day (3), the next layer the presents given on the third day (6), the next layer the presents given on the fourth day (10), the next layer the presents given on the fifth day (15).  The cumulative number of presents given on the first through fifth day is the number in the entire five layer tetrahedron, or 1+3+6+10+15 = 35.    You can extend this indefinitely, of course.  If you stop after 12 days, you will have a 12-layer tetrahedron with a cumulative total of 1+3+6+10+15+21+28+36+45+55+66+78 presents, which turns out to be 364, a very nice number, since it is one less than the number of days in a typical year!

Another fun fact to share with your younger friends and relatives:  take the number of cumulative gifts received during the 12 days and multiply it by the number of days in 2012 and you get a nice opportunity to discuss factoring differences of squares since 3652 - 12 = (365-1)(365+1).

There are wonderful mathematical possibilities to explore in every religion and culture--including the modular arithmetic of the various calendar systems generally designed to reconcile discrepancies between lunar and solar numbering systems, which move many holiday observations around relative to one another.   It's also interesting to note the frequency with which calendars in so many widely divergent calendars use a 7-day week.  This is mathematically very convenient, since the number nearest to 365.24 with a conveniently large number of factors is 364, which is divisible by 7.

The Hebrew calendar has a 19-year cycle with a leap month in seven of those years.  The Islamic calendar has a 30-year cycle with a leap day added to the final month in 11 out of those 30 years.  The Gregorian calendar commonly used in the west appears to have a four year cycle with a leap day every four years, but it's actually more complicated than that.

New years festivals are observed at many different times in different calendars, starting with the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which arrives in early fall.  The Hindu new year celebration happens on their festival of lights, Divali, in mid-fall.  The Chinese New Year generally comes later in winter than the Gregorian new year on January 1.  The early Roman calendar (before Caesar came along and reformed it) began its new year in March, had only ten lunar months, and then had a mysterious unlabeled winter period of 61 day that were apparently not considered to belong to any month.  Caesar changed the New Year to January 1, but later Christian rulers moved it to March, before Gregory moved it back to January.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

AMC8 honors

Congratulations to the following students from Albany area schools who achieved national recognition on the very challenging AMC8 contest given last month.  Congratulations as well to all the math circle  student coaches who have supported and encouraged the students, particularly Zubin Mukerjee, whose satellite middle school math circle had many high scorers again this year.

William Wang, eighth grader at Farnsworth Middle School, was one of four students in the state to manage a rare perfect score.  In many years, there are no perfect scores in the entire state of New York.  William joins a long list of AAMC students with high scorer in the state plaques on the AMC8, starting with Raju Krishnamoorthy (1998), Drew Besse (2001),  Dave Bieber (2004), Andrew Ardito (2004, 2005), Schuyler Smith (2006), Matt Babbitt (2007), and Ziqing (Bill) Dong (2010).

Joining William on the Distinguished Honor Roll are Bill Dong (Farnsworth, 23 points), Alex Wei (Van Antwerp/Niskayuna CSD, 23 points), and Eric Pasquini (Farnsworth, 22 points.)

William, Bill, and Eric had a school team score of 70 points, which ranked Farnsworth third place in the state and earned the school national school honor roll standing.    Jeremy Collison from Farnsworth also achieved national Honor Roll recognition with a score of 18 points.

Niskayuna middle school students from Iroquois and Van Antwerp joined forces to rack up a team score of 65 points, ranking 7th place team in the state and earning a spot on the national school Merit Roll list.  In addition to Alex Wei, other Niskayuna CSD students earning national Honor Roll status were:  Patrick Chi and Liam McGrinder with 21 points, Andrey Ahkmetov, Gideon Schmidt, and Jason Tang with 20 points each, Matthew (Rocket) Ruona with 19 points, Alice Hollocher, Darius Irani, and Vladimir Malcevic with 18 points.

Other teams that made the national Merit Roll list included Bethlehem Middle School with a team score that ranked top 30 in the state.  Four of their students also earned individual Honor Roll standing as well:  Wenyuan Hou (21 points) Eliot Shekhtman and Iris Zhou (18 points), and Bowen Chen (17 points).

Alex Cao (21 points) and Jeff Shen (19 points), both from Shaker Junior HS and competing on the Albany Area Math Circle team, earned individual national Honor Roll Recognition.  Along with the score contributed by tying school bronze winners Gwenda Law (O'Rourke) and Helen Yuan (Shaker), the Albany Area Math Circle team landed on the school Merit Roll as well.

Albany Academies also landed on the national school Merit Roll with a team score of 51 points.   Zoe Shannon (18 points) and Joseph Aiello (17 points) earned individual Honor Roll recognition as well.

The following students in sixth grade or below received individual recognition for their scores on the Achievement Roll:  Bethlehem MS:  Michael Klisiwecz, Isabella Ruud, and Eliot Shekhtman;  HACD:  Max Benson; Niskayuna CSD: Gregory George and Gabriel Kammer.

All national honor lists are available at this link.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sign up for our December Math Meet

Albany Area Math Circle continues our very well-received monthly middle school math meets program again this year.   We will be using the Math Meets contest problems written by the always awesome George Reuter, the world famous coach of the Upstate NY Math team.

Congratulations to all the brave students who participated in our October and November math meets!  Every question solved added to the team's totals due to the fact that we had less than 10 students in each division!

Shout-outs to our high scorers of the meets:  Gwenda and Gabriel (Nov-middle school division); Jeffrrey (Oct-middle school division); Matt B, Matt G, David, and Philip (Nov-hs-no calc division); David, Gideon, and Luxi (Nov-hs calculator division); Alex and Alice (Oct hs-no calc division), Cecilia, Gili, and Matt B (Oct hs calc division).

Congratulations as well to the following perfect scorers:  Gili, Matt B, and Zubin (Oct hs-no calc); Matt B, Philip, and Zubin (Nov hs calc); Jerry and Patrick (Oct ms.)  (Note:  due to a no-duplicate award tradition, perfect scorers are NOT elgible for high scorer of the meet recognition.)

Thanks to all our high school students who have participated as mentors--you DO make a difference in helping "scary math problems" look less scary to the next generation of problem solvers!  And your courageous example in tackling tough problems of your own alongside our middle schoolers is inspiring also!

The biggest value of this type of activity comes from the collaborative discussions and reflections afterwards.  You can find last year's problems (and solutions!) here.  The December math meets problems focus on geometry, so I recommend looking at last year's December  math meet problems to prepare for this month's meet.

There are also playbooks with tips and even videos made by Coach Reuter to explain the solutions to last year's problems available here.

Space is limited and advanced signup on the form below is required.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Congratulations to Ms. Schmidt!

Albany Area Math Circle is beaming with pride to announce that our co-advisor, Alexandra Schmidt, has been recognized as a National Board Certified Teacher.

Alexandra, who teaches at Hebrew Academy of the Capital District, is one of only 50 middle school math teachers in New York to achieve this rigorous professional recognition.  She has also been a major contributor to the success of our middle school math outreach program, as well as a supporter and facilitator of many opportunities for our high school students.  She was our lead proctor when Albany Area Math Circle hosted the statewide high school math tournament, NYSML, in 2010.

Alexandra Schmidt, NBCT, in her classroom--with her Tough Traveler Albany Area Math Circle advisor bag!

Although her school is a small one, I do not know of any other school in the Capital District that includes more students as fully in their MATHCOUNTS program as Alexandra's MATHCOUNTS program does.  She shares my philosophy that the excitement, deep challenges, and collaborative shared Aha! moments of those problems ought to reach as many students as possible, not just a handful of the  "top n" students eligible for official competition.    I wish all students in the country had teachers as willing to share such engaging challenges with their students.

All students involved in her MATHCOUNTS program (not just the students on the official competition team) get invited to her home for ice cream sundaes with her special homemade fudge to celebrate afterwards.  That reflects a belief--which I share as well--that every member of the greater MATHCOUNTS community has a role to play in encouraging and supporting the mathematical and problem solving development of other members of the community.

A graduate of Stanford University, with training and experience as an engineer before she decided to teach mathematics, Alexandra brings a strong awareness of the role that mathematical problem solving and teamwork play in the "real world" to her classroom.    She also embodies all that is best about the spirit of generosity of math coaches, helping students everywhere, not just students in her own school.  (For more on this spirit, see here and here.) She has also composed her own original problems and contributed them to the greater national problem solving community.  MATHCOUNTS chose to highlight those problems as the "Coaches' Problems of the Month" in January 2010.  You can find her problems and annotated solutions here.    (MATHCOUNTS is happy to accept original problems from students as well as coaches--if you have problems to contribute, check out this link.)

Update:  As of September 2014, Alexandra is now a math teacher at Emma Willard School in Troy, bring the positive energy of collaborative "extreme math" to the high school level.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"There are no foolish questions and ...

no man becomes a fool until  he has stopped asking questions"                Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Hat tip to the always awesome Pat Ballew for reminding me of this wonderful quote from Charles Steinmetz, the mathematical and electrical "Wizard of Schenectady."

Our PUMaC team "Albany Area Math Circle Steinmetz" fittingly bears his name.

Charles Steinmetz founded the GE research labs (originally in a stable behind his home in the Stockade neighborhood of Schenectady) and also founded the electrical engineering department at Union College, where taught for many years.  He also served as President of the Schenectady City School Board (campaigning with a motto of "a seat for every bottom" at a time when the schools were bursting at the seams, requiring double shifts) as well as President of the Schenectady City Council.

His story is a fascinating one--this Smithsonian blog post is a great source.  An excerpt:
a brilliant student of mathematics and chemistry at the University of Breslau, but he was forced to flee the country after the authorities became interested in his involvement with the Socialist Party.  He arrived at Ellis Island in 1888 and was nearly turned away because he was a dwarf, but an American friend whom Steinmetz was traveling with convinced immigration officials that the young German Ph.D. was a genius whose presence would someday benefit all of America. In just a few years, Steinmetz would prove his American friend right.
Read the Smithsonian article for some of the many great Steinmetz stories.  I especially liked the anecdote about the time he went off to trouble-shoot an electrical generator at the nascent Ford Motor Company, and asked for "only a notebook, pencil, and a cot" and then proceeded to spend two straight days "scribbling computations on a notepad" before figuring out a simple solution to Ford's problem.  You can also read more about Steinmetz on our blog here.

A willingness to be like Steinmetz--to persevere and think very hard, to try outlandish ideas, to make mistakes, and--above all--to ask questions is the key way that new students can contribute to our math circle.  Please be brave about asking questions.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

PUMaC team

I am pleased to announce the eight outstanding students who will represent Albany Area Math Circle at the Princeton University Math Contest (PUMaC) this year:

Matthew Babbitt, heeg
Zubin Mukerjee, Guilderland High School
Wanwan Fei, Emma Willard School
Matt Gu, Guilderland High School
Cecilia Holodak, Niskayuna High School
Preston Law, heeg
Gili Rusak, Shaker High School
Aniket Tolpadi, Niskayuna High School

PUMaC is the most challenging team math competition in which our math circle participates, especially since we compete in the A division, against powerhouse teams from all over the country as well as international teams.  We are glad to have a terrific team of very energetic, experienced, and enthusiastic students.   Collectively, they have a great deal of experience in other challenging math competitions, including AIME, ARML, HMMT, and Math Prize for Girls.

For past PUMaC adventures see these past blog posts:

Albany Area Math Circle at 2010 PUMaC

Albany Area Math Circle at 2009 PUMaC

Albany Area Math Circle at 2008 PUMaC

The official name of our A-division PUMaC team is Albany Area Math Circle-Steinmetz, in honor of Charles Proteus Steinmetz.  You can read more about him in my next post.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Albany Area Math Circle helpers with Math Prize for Girls

It started with a "stuffing party" at the Union College Kenney Community Center.  Thanks to math circle volunteers Sue Bieber, Rita Biswas, Elena Dolginova, Cecilia Holodak, Catherine Miller, Zubin Mukerjee, Elizabeth Parizh; Gili, Michal, and Zvi Rusak, and Alexandra Schmidt as well as Advantage Testing administrator Tina Lesem, hundreds of Math Prize for Girls tote bags got stuffed with pencils, bluebooks, blank answer forms, hats and flowers, copies of the rules and other handouts of Math Prize information.
Gili and Catherine got to be experts at "artisanly fluffing" the fabric flowers.

Of course, hugs and giggles are inevitable when you confront stacks of hundreds of hats.

Alexandra's awesome shirt made the event even more awesome, of course.    (If you are wondering how YOU can get a shirt as awesome as hers, you need to know they are not for sale!  You have to earn one--by composing and submitting a set of your own cool original problems to MATHCOUNTS.   Both coaches and students can submit problems.  If yours are selected for their Problems of the Month feature, then you too can have a shirt like Alexandra's.  Details are here.  And bear in mind that writing your own original problems is a great way to develop your problem solving skills too!)

But I digress ...

A week later Math Prize for Girls happened at MIT--and it was also completely awesome!   The expertly and artisanly stuffed bags made the start of the day much smoother this year.    The photo at right shows lei-clad proctor Elisse Ghitelman greeting students and handing them bags with everything they would need (except, of course, for the test itself, which she distributed later.)

Later that day, Albany Area Math Circle alumni Gurtej Kanwar, Zagreb Mukerjee, Liz Simon, and Felix Sun, all college students in Cambridge now, helped out in the grading room.  The picture below shows Felix with some of the other MIT student volunteers wearing some of those artisanly fluffed flowers clipped to their hats, adding a very cheerful note to the festivities.

Albany Area Math Circle was proud to have four participants in Math Prize for Girls this year--Cecilia Holodak and Elizabeth Parizh from Niskayuna High School, Gili Rusak from Shaker, and Wanwan Fei from Emma Willard.  It was a bit crowded and chaotic after the ceremony, so we did not manage to get a photo with all our contestants and volunteers, but we did manage to get Felix, Elizabeth, Cecilia, Wanwan, and myself (with my own artisanly fluffed flower!) into a photo here:

  A special note of thanks to Albany Area Math Circle advisor, Rita Biswas, who drove all the stuffed tote bags to Cambridge, and then spent three days with us making sure that countless details of Math Prize 2011 went smoothly!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Math Circle alum wins Harvard Social Studies essay prize

In yet another demonstration of the "Do math and you can do anything!" motto, a shout-out of congratulations goes to Albany Area Math Circle alumnus Zagreb Mukerjee.

Zagreb (shown above with a middle school math circle he led during his high school years) is now a junior at Harvard concentrating in Social Studies, a unique all-honors program which requires a great deal of independent research and analytical writing.

Last week, the Harvard Social Studies department announced that Zagreb was a winner of the Mill-Taylor prize for his epistemological essay titled Utilitarianism and its Discontents.

MILL-TAYLOR PRIZE The Mill-Taylor Prize is awarded for the two best Social Studies 10 essays written by any sophomore concentrating in Social Studies. The prize is given out at the beginning of the junior year.

The apparent moral of the story: if you can explain advanced mathematics clearly enough to excite eager and enthusiastic young students, then writing an expository analytical essay on epistemology is a piece of cake.

Albany Area Math Circle student off to Russia

Congratulations to Wyatt Smith, an Albany Area Math Circle rising senior, who has demonstrated once again that our math circle students excel in a broad variety of domains.

Eleventh-grader Wyatt Smith of Clifton Park was the winner of the second annual Albany-Tula Alliance Student Essay Contest.

Smith will be traveling to Russia in September 2011 with a chaperone from the Albany-Tula Alliance for a two week stay in Tula. There he and two other contest winners will meet with other students and have an opportunity to attend classes at Lev Tolstoy Tula State Pedagogical Institute.

In this year's competition, which took place in February, students ages 16 to 18 submitted 1,500 word essays on the role that the space race might play in maintaining world peace and technological cooperation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Albany Area Math Circle in Ghana!

Albany Area Math Circle advisor Bill Babbitt has just returned from a trip to Ghana where he was part of a team headed up by RPI Professor Ron Eglash. There, they worked with students at Ayeduasi School, using software they had developed to introduce the mathematical concepts of rotation, translation, dilation, reflection, and iteration in contexts of cornrow and kente cloth design. Here are two of the students displaying the design they had created:

There is a detailed account of Mr. Babbitt's mathematical adventures in Ghana on his blog here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Albany Area Math Circle student speaks at national math circle conference

The National Association of Math Circles recently posted selected videos from their annual national meeting this spring in Houston.

One of their videos features a presentation given by Albany Area Math Circle member Elizabeth Parizh on the social aspects of math circles:

Math Clubs and Their Social Aspect:
A View Inside and Out

Elizabeth Parizh

Many children today are put off from participating in math activities because it is not popular among school kids. I will describe my own experiences as both a coach and a student in such math clubs, and explains what it is like for kids, and especially girls. I find that this is a very important problem that needs to be solved, because these students are America’s future and need to be prepared to help their country prosper. And yes, this does require math.

Elizabeth's talk was very well received, though unfortunately the videographer's microphone was placed to pick up more of the crowd reaction than of Elizabeth's voice (which came through quite clearly in person.) Her slides are available here.

The other talks and activities at the meeting were also excellent and several of the other featured videos are available here.

Elizabeth also assisted Bard College Professor Japheth Wood in leading sessions on the theory of impartial games designed for middle school and high school teachers. They used the game of Nim to illustrate the ideas of game trees, strategy, and concepts such as the addition of games. More details of that activity, including handouts, are available here. Professor Wood leads the Kingston Math Circle to our south--you may also want to check out his blog, News from the Math Wizard.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Albany Area Math Circle representatives at Math Prize for Girls

Congratulations to the four Albany Area Math Circle students who have qualified for invitations to the Math Prize for Girls to be held at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 17. They are all four outstanding representatives of all that is best in our math circle: massive enthusiasm for tackling mathematical challenges and eagerness to share their mathematical knowledge with others in our community.

From left to right above are:

Elizabeth Parizh, a rising junior at Niskayuna High School

Gili Rusak, a rising freshman at Shaker High School

Cecilia Holodak, a rising sophomore at Niskayuna High School.

At lower right is Zhixin (Wanwan) Fei, a rising senior at Emma Willard School.

They are a remarkably talented and experienced group. All four are veterans who also participated in the Math Prize for Girls last year. Elizabeth, Gili, and Cecilia have all participated in MATHCOUNTS, NYSML, ARML, and the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament.

Elizabeth has been student coaching at Iroquois Middle School. She was one of only a few high school students across the country invited to join adult math circle leaders at the annual national meeting of the National Association of Math Circles which took place at the University of Houston this March, where she gave an excellent and very well-received presentation on her experiences both as a student in a math circle and also as a coach of younger students. The audience for her presentation were mostly adult leaders of math circles, many of whom remarked to me afterwards how helpful her perspective was to them. At the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival associated with that meeting, Elizabeth also participated as an apprentice to Bard College Professor Japheth Wood, helping him lead a session on game theory based on the Game of Nim. Elizabeth was an AIME qualifier this year.

Gili was the second highest scoring 8th grader from anywhere in the US or Canada at Math Prize 2010, was among the top 10 in the state at the state MATHCOUNTS championship this year, and was already among our top high school students in 7th and 8th grade on contests such as AIME and HMMT. She plans to student coach younger students next year.

Cecilia also plans to student coach younger students next year. Her many honors include being the first girl in a decade to win the CountDown Round at the Chapter MATHCOUNTS contest and being part of a four person Science Bowl team that placed 7th in the country at the National Science Bowl event in Washington, DC last year.

Wanwan qualified for AIME this year on the AMC12. Last year, she was the highest scorer on the AMC10 of anyone in this area, male or female, and she was also among the five highest scoring girls anywhere in the state on that contest. She is among a group of Emma Willard students who have been discussing launching a math mentoring program for younger girls in the future, an exciting initiative for our area.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Upstate NY ARML team

Congratulations to the Albany Area Math Circle students who represented Upstate New York on the all-star teams at ARML, the national high school math championships held at Penn State this weekend: Matthew Babbitt, Cecilia Holodak, Preston Law, Zubin Mukerjee, Jien Ogawa, Elizabeth Parizh, Paul Rapaport, Schuyler Smith, Felix Sun, and Jay White joined a stellar group of math students from other parts of Upstate New York to do our region proud.

As usual, the problems were extremely challenging--indeed, the veteran members of the problem writing committee cheerfully admit that some of them get zeroes on the contests when taking them for practice as part of the development process!

Special congratulations to Allen Liu, a seventh grader from the Rochester area, who got 9 out of 10 correct on the individual round and ranked 10th in the country after tiebreaks!

Congrats as well to team high scorers Schuyler Smith and Felix Sun, veteran seniors who managed to get 7 out of 10 correct for team high scorer honors.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Congratulations again, Matthew!

Albany Area Math Circle student Matthew Babbitt, a tenth grader from Fort Edward, New York, was among the top 10 American students on the Asia Pacific Math Olympiad (APMO), earning an Honorable Mention and helping the US team take second place among the 34 participating countries.

The other students on the United States APMO team along with Matthew were quite a distinguished group: Xiaoyu He, Wenyu Cao, Evan O'Dorney, Albert Gu, Calvin Deng, David Yang, Benjamin Gunby, and Mitchell Lee. (In fact, all the other APMO top ten students have won the USA Math Olympiad at least once. Several have won it multiple times and have made the International Math Olympiad team, where they have won gold and/or silver medals.)

XXIII Asia Pacific Math Olympiad

2011 Summary of Results

Top 20 countries:

1 KOREA 289
2 USA 269
4 PERU 223
5 TAIWAN 220
6 JAPAN 208
7 RUSSIA 205
9 BRAZIL 190
10 HONG KONG 173
11 CANADA 164
14 MEXICO 141

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Math Circle stalwarts challenge Watson @Jeopardy!

Yesterday, two pillars of the Albany Area Math Circle, advisor Bill Babbitt and veteran student leader Matthew Babbitt, traveled to IBM Watson Research Laboratories along with members of RPI's Human Media Interaction class. As part of their field trip, they got to play as a team head to head against Watson (or perhaps we should say, "two heads to no head" against Watson). The photo above came early in the game. Watson pulled ahead--by a large margin--after this shot was taken.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Congratulations to Professor Rita Biswas!

Earlier today, Albany Area Math Circle advisor Rita Biswas won the John S. Levato Endowment Award for Teaching in recognition of her outstanding teaching at the University at Albany (SUNY) School of Business.

In addition to the great work she does at UAlbany, she has also served as an outstanding advisor to our math circle, most notably in the excellent work she did in organizing arrangements for the University at Albany to host the high school state championship math meet, NYSML, last year. She has also served on the coaching staff of the Upstate New York Math Team, traveling with them to the national math championship meet, ARML, at Penn State on the weekend after Memorial Day. She has also organized weekend expeditions to the Princeton University Math Contest (PUMaC) and the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament as well as helping with proctoring the USA Math Olympiad and supporting our middle school outreach initiatives. Our math circle is very fortunate to have her as an advisor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Congratulations Schuyler!

Albany Area Math Circle member Schuyler Smith has been named by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as one of the 141 US Presidential Scholars this year. Congratulations as well to Union College Astrophysics Professor Rebecca Koopman, whom Schuyler has nominated for the US Presidential Scholar Teacher Recognition Award. They will be honored in a ceremony in Washington, DC in June.

Schuyler's official US Presidential Scholar biography appears below:

Schuyler has always been curious about the world around him. He grew up in Upstate New York, and feels more at home exploring mountains than navigating cities. Today he's a National AP Scholar, and the state champion and nationally ranked in many math and science competitions. He's completed most of the math and computer science majors at Union College. In 2008 he started an open source project that has been used to teach physics to high school and college students, and currently works as a teaching assistant for Art of Problem Solving. Each week he volunteers to teach math to middle schoolers. Schuyler has observed on the world's largest telescope, and his research papers on galaxy clusters and evolutionary robotics have been published nationally and internationally. In his free time he enjoys tennis, sailing, clarinet, computers, photography, flashlights, and penguins.

ADDENDUM: It is worth noting that Schuyler is only the second student from this part of the state to be honored as a US Presidential Scholar in recent years. The last Presidential Scholar from our region, Beth Schaffer, selected in 2007, was also a member of Albany Area Math Circle throughout her four years at Guilderland High School, and served as our math circle's co-captain during her junior and senior years. Beth was also a mentor and coach to Schuyler's state championship winning homeschool MATHCOUNTS team back when he was an eighth grader. Beth is now a senior at MIT, where she has been a lead organizer of the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament. She has also been a coach for the Upstate New York AllStar Math Team, which will represent Upstate New York at the national high school math tournament at Penn State next month. Schuyler is a senior veteran member of that team.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Math Circle student runs for school board

Math Circle member Rich Reitz is running for a seat on the Niskayuna Board of Education in the upcoming school district election on May 17.

His biography on the school district website illustrates that our math circle students have interests that span many dimensions beyond mathematics:

Richard Reitz is seeking a first term on the Board of Education. Currently a senior at Niskayuna High School and a lifelong district resident, Reitz, who will be graduating in June, has attended Niskayuna schools for the past 13 years.

Reitz plans to attend Schenectady County Community College beginning in the fall. He also plans to cross-register in math courses through Union College. Reitz achieved AP Scholar with Honor status while at the high school. He has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for community service each of the last four years (2007-2010) and anticipates receiving the award in 2011.

Reitz currently serves as co-president of Nisky S.T.A.R.T. (Students Today are Recycling Together), the recycling club at Niskayuna High School. An accomplished musician, he is also a cellist in the Empire State Youth Orchestra.

Reitz is also active in community clubs and organizations. As of April 15, he has achieved Eagle Scout status. He also participates as a member of Cap City Bang Bang, a local ultimate Frisbee team.

The other two candidates are incumbent board members John Buhrmaster and Deb Oriola. Their biographies are available here.

Interested voters can meet all three candidates tomorrow evening (May 2) at 7 p.m. at the annual "Meet the Candidates Night" at Van Antwerp Middle School Auditorium.

UPDATE 5/18/11: The election had a record turnout of 3,305 voters, the highest total in over a decade. Although Rich did not win a seat on the School Board, over 38% of the voters cast ballots for him.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Upstate New York mathematical uprising in Central NY

Check out the story on the Math Prize for Girls Community Blog.

And, Albany Area Math Circle students, if you haven't yet sent in your application to the Upstate New York ARML team, do it now! This year's Upstate NY teams are going to be especially great, thanks in part to the great resurgence in Ithaca as well as awesome students all over Upstate New York.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

NYSML 2011

Congratulations to the hardy, energetic, intrepid, and enthusiastic band of Albany Area Math Circle students who made the long trek to the far reaches of Suffolk County on the eastern end of Long Island to represent our math circle at the annual state high school math tournament, NYSML. We are proud of all of you: Shreya Arora, Matthew Babbitt, Ryan Cheu, George Gelashvili, Cecilia Holodak, Gurtej Kanwar, Preston Law, Zubin Mukerjee, Jien Ogawa, Elizabeth Parizh, Paul Rapaport, Simran Rastogi, Gili Rusak, Schuyler, Wyatt, and Isaac Smith; Aniket Tolpadi, Jay and Philip White. We'd also like to recognize Gideon Schmidt, who eagerly and enthusiastically embraced the invitation to join in the NYSML challenge and prepared with us, but was held back at the last minute by a bout of strep throat.

Our hats are off to salute the New York City, Nassau County, and Monroe County (yay! Upstate solidarity shout-out!) teams for bringing home first, second, and third place team honors in the A-division this year. Congratulations to you!

Our hats are off as well to salute the awesome members of the Ithaca Math Circle who won first place in the B-division this year! What a year your--relatively young--math circle has had: taking home B-division honors at PUMaC, HMMT, and now NYSML. We are thrilled that our Albany Area Math Circle students will be able to join forces with you and the many other awesome Upstate New York students at ARML in June.

Congratulations as well to the individual "high scorers of the meet" who got 9 out of 10 of the individual problems correct--they were definitely tougher this year! There were no perfect scorers this year, largely due to the extreme challenge of problem #8, solved by only seven students in the state. We were pleased that two of those seven "higher scorer of the meet" students came from our Upstate NY neighbors on the Ithaca and Monroe County teams. Monroe's ever-awesome Allen Liu stayed in the tiebreaks to the very end, finishing second place in the state.

Our team high scorers this year were Matthew Babbitt, Gurtej Kanwar, and Schuyler Smith, each with 8 correct solutions. Other especially high scores included Preston Law, Zubin Mukerjee, and Jay White, who solved 7 problems; Cecilia Holodak and Paul Rapaport, who solved 6 problems; Elizabeth Parizh and Aniket Tolpadi, who solved 5 problems.

Other high points of the NYSML 2011 experience: relays went better than they did at our practices and our relay teams racked up an impressive number of points. Most impressively, there was great collaboration by Albany Area Math Circle students on the Power Round, resulting in 47 out of a possible 50 points on that round!

And, for the second year in a row, Albany Area Math Circle ranked first in New York State on the NYSML Seasonal competition! [CORRECTION May 8 NYSML Executive Director Curry informed us today that he just realized that he made an error in collating results. Bronx Science was actually first place. Albany Area Math Circle was second place.]

Shown below are Matthew Babbitt, Jay White, and Schuyler Smith accepting the plaque on behalf of Albany Area Math Circle from NYSML officials, Mrs. Susan Schneider, Ms. Toni Lynn Swinson, and Mr. George Reuter. It was a special honor and pleasure to have the award presented by Mrs. Schneider, the widow of Dr. Leo J. Schneider, a long-time NYSML official who composed countless great math contest problems that have challenged and inspired our students.

Thanks to all the NYSML officials who made the event a great experience, especially the inimitably awesome emcee and President George Reuter, the ever-organized and always helpful Vice President Anchala Sobrin. Many thanks as well to Executive Director Mike Curry, to the host committee (we now appreciate how much work is involved in preparing for an event like this one!), and to all the volunteer coaches, proctors, and scorers who made this event possible and successful.

Special thanks to all the parents who drove carpools and/or organized travel details to make it possible for our math circle students to participate. Particular thanks to Katherine Scheib and Rita Biswas, who proctored other teams, and to Dwight Cheu, who worked in the scoring room.

Extreme thanks to Bill Babbitt and Rita Biswas for organizing and coordinating countless details to make this happen.

And finally, once again, thanks to the students of the Albany Area Math Circle--your enthusiastic embrace of mathematical challenges inspires us all!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Further adventures of math circle alumni: David Rolnick

Albany Area Math Circle alum David Rolnick is profiled in this excerpt from an MIT admissions blog post about French House, where he lives:

Let's start with that kid over there - the one at the dining table closest to you, with the brown hair. That's Davie.

Davie is a junior from southwest Vermont, double-majoring in Math and Music. At MIT, he is involved in the Gilbert & Sullivan society - which performs comic operas by Gilbert and Sullivan - and the chamber chorus, which is a class that runs for three hours per week.

Non-MIT-related hobbies include "birding", which consists of "watching birds, looking at birds, and studying birds", and doing the same for insects. Davie has written about a hundred and fifty nature articles, most for a local paper, but also a few in the Vermont Entomological Society Journal and local nature newsletters. At his house in Vermont, he has found about 540 species of moth, seven of which had not previously been found in Vermont.

If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and challenge him to a game of bananagrams.

Afterwards, ask him why he likes MIT. He'll tell you that in all his time here, he has met “maybe one person” who wasn't "really nice."

Now ask him to tell you about French House. He’ll list some nouns: "quirkiness, silliness, friendliness, cooking, intellectualism, humanities, incidentally French, games."

Check out the engaging video [in French, with English subtitles] that Davie and his housemates created to encourage prefrosh to consider living in French House--sounds like a lot of fun to me! (Davie is the one in the orange shirt.)

David has appeared in several MIT operatic productions--the photo below by MIT Tech photographer Elijah Meniah shows Dave (center) starring as KoKo in an MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players production of Mikado last year:

Davie also participated in the Duluth Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. The first photo below shows him presenting his work in progress to his fellow students:

The second photo below shows David and other Duluth REUers getting to ready to set out on one of that program's legendary weekly excursions (as a break from their research)--white water rafting:

Congratulations to David on his many accomplishments--including yet another Honorable Mention in this year's Putnam College Math Contest. And congratulations as well to our other AAMC alums who made the national top scorer lists this year: Yipu Wang, a sophomore at Cornell, who made the Putnam top 188, and to Andrew Ardito, a freshman at Princeton, who made the national top 500 list.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Congratulations to Evan O'Dorney

17-Year-Old Wins Intel's $100K Science Prize reports:

Danville's Evan O'Dorney wins Intel Science Talent Search

At 17, Danville's Evan O'Dorney already has won the National Spelling Bee and a gold medal at an international math Olympiad, meeting two presidents along the way. On Tuesday, he claimed the triple-crown: the coveted Intel Science Talent Search's $100,000 top prize.

Evan became California's first budding scientist to take home what's known as the Nobel Prize for high school students.

"I'm excited and shocked," Evan said after his win Tuesday. "This has been exciting, especially the judging interviews. All the science questions and working with scientists who are in very different fields than me, I'm very grateful."


Perhaps it's no surprise that this scholastic ninja -- did we mention he's a black belt in tae kwon do? -- once again has found himself taking down his overachieving competition: In 2007, he correctly spelled "schuhplattler," "laquear" and "serrefine" to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. That's when he met his first president: George W. Bush.

At the Intel competition, something about approximating square roots won him the top prize and a chance to meet President Barack Obama, who had called to congratulate him the year before.

That's when Evan won gold at the 51st International Mathematical Olympiad, and the top prize in "Who Wants to be a Mathematician?" Well, Evan does. He hopes to one day be a professor of mathematics -- and continue singing and playing the piano.

Yes, in addition to claiming academic prizes, Evan also studies piano performance and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has written, among other things, a musical representation of the number pi, an opera and a piano concerto.


Evan says the person who's had the most influence on his scientific career is his mother, Jennifer, who home-schools him. His dad, Michael, is a BART operator.

His Intel prize is the result of research he did after Stanford University professor Brian Conrad invited him to tackle a problem regarding the approximation of square roots.

"After mulling the problem over in my head for nearly a year," he wrote in his Intel application, "I began generating and studying large amounts of computer data." He then describes manipulating formulas and observing patterns in the computer's calculations, and in the end, he came up with "an unexpectedly simple" formula. Well, maybe for him.

"A deep, lifelong fascination with the patterns of numbers," Evan wrote, "was my main source of inspiration throughout."

What the article unfortunately doesn't say is that Evan is a long-time and very active member, contributor, and leader in the Berkeley Math Circle. He is second from right in this picture, next to the circle's leader and founder, Zvezda Stankova. (Those are Klein bottles drawn on the blackboard in the rear, by the way.)

He is not a solitary mathematician who works alone. That's an invalid stereotype to begin with, and Evan certainly does not exemplify it.

Two years ago, at the Great Circles conference at Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), I watched him captain the Berkeley Math Circle as his team of six challenged the Stanford Math Circle in a "Math Battle". (No, it's not a contact sport! He didn't need to use his tae kwon do skills. It's an oral battle of mathematical wits in which teams work together to develop and present solutions to tough mathematical problems in front of a panel of judges. It takes teamwork, good mathematical skills, good poise and thinking on your feet, and good communication skills. Check out the streaming video here.)

After winning many local Bay Area math contests, Evan took over the job of running the Bay Area monthly math contests himself. He is a great example of an important principle in practice--the more you give of your own mathematical understanding to others, the more you yourself will grow mathematically.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And he coaches MATHCOUNTS too!

Wrong: an original composition performed by the multi-talented Hilly Adler, with passions for math and music.

Hilly is a sophomore at Albany High School, who helped Hackett Middle School math teacher Tamara Moffett to coach the school's first-ever MATHCOUNTS team.

I like the title of Hilly's work: "Wrong."

Young aspiring mathematicians need to embrace and celebrate the wrong great math gets done without stumbling and working through a lot of wrong answers along the way.

Monday, March 7, 2011

AMC B-date AIME Qualifiers and Young Student Honors


Schuyler Smith 123.0
Felix Sun 121.5
Jay White 120.0

AMC 12B School team score is: 364.5



AIME Qualifiers:

Based on AMC12B:


Based on AMC10B:

ERIC WU 123.0

Young student honors:

AMC12B scores of 90 or above for students in tenth grade or below:

Cecilia Holodak, grade 9 Niskayuna HS 96.0
Preston Law, grade 10, heeg 91.5

AMC10B scores of 90 or above for students in eighth grade or below:

William Wang, Farnsworth MS, grade 7, 120.0
Alex Wei, Van Antwerp MS, grade 7, 117.0
Patrick Chi, Iroquois MS, grade 7, 114.0
Gili Rusak, Shaker JHS, grade 8, 114.0
Philip Sun, Acadia MS, grade 8, 111.0
Ziqing Dong, Farnsworth MS, grade 7 106.5
Martin Shreiner, Van Antwerp MS, grade 8, 103.5
Isaac Smith, heeg, grade 8, 102.0
Gideon Schmidt, Iroquois MS, grade 7, 97.5
Qu Chen, Shaker JHS, grade 7 97.5
Alex Cao, Shaker JHS grade 8, 90.0
Philip White, heeg, grade 7, 90.0

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Divisibility rules explained

As James Tanton points out, many students (and teachers!) use the divisibility rules, but can't explain why they work. That is unfortunate, because the explanations are a great stepping stone to modular arithmetic. The video above explains the divisibility rules for 3 and 9. (Double-click on it to see it full screen!)

Here's his explanation for the divisibility rule for 11.

And here's his explanation for the divisibility rule for 7. After viewing this one, you should have ideas about how to create your own divisibility rules for numbers like 13, 17, 47, etc.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Math Circles make a difference:

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A Mills College professor has won the nation's highest award for teaching math. Zvezdelina Stankova, Ph.D., has made it her mission to inspire Bay Area students to follow a path in mathematics.

Stankova probably wouldn't be here had it not been for her math teacher in her native Bulgaria. In class one day she was given a second chance to solve a math problem.

"I was very puzzled how my classmates could do it and I couldn't. I couldn't believe it, that that was the case. So I went to the math circle and three months later I won the local math Olympiads with a perfect score," said Stankova.

That day her teacher told her, "What comes from within you, can take you very far." Stankova now gives that advice to all her students.

That happened a quarter century ago. Zvezda has had many adventures and accomplishments since then--check out the video above for more. Or, if you prefer text to video, see here. (Hat tip: David Cordeiro of the Metroplex Math Circle.)

In 1998, after getting her PhD in mathematics from Harvard University, Zvezda drew on her childhood experiences with Bulgarian math circles to found the Berkeley Math Circle. You can read more about the Berkeley Math Circle in this remarkable book. Here is a sample chapter on combinatorics from Paul Zeitz, one of the Berkeley math circle's many contributors.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anagha and the Persistent Chickens

Sounds like the name of a rock group, right?

But it's not...the picture above shows Anagha Tolpadi last year working with a group of four wonderful sixth and seventh graders who decided to call themselves "The Persistent Chickens." Persistence and perseverence is the key--and encouragement by mentors like Anagha helps!

All four of the "Persistent Chickens" did very well on the fall middle school math contests and received invitations to join our high school math circle in taking the challenging AMC10 high school contest with us on Wednesday. Congratulations to all of you!

Anagha is now off studying math at Cornell. To the persistent chickens: keep on keeping on....encourage each other and younger students in the way that Anagha encouraged you. The more you help others, the more you will learn yourself.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Congratulations to our AIME Qualifiers

Albany Area Math Circle is pleased to congratulate the following students who qualified for the American Invitational Math Exam based on AMC12A or AMC10A taken with Albany Area Math Circle on February 8:

AMC12A AIME Qualifiers


AMC10A AIME Qualifiers

Zubin Mukerjee 144
Alex Wei 127.5
William Wang 123.0
Ziqing (Bill) Dong 121.5
Philip Sun, 120

AMC10A Young Student Honors
(for students in 8th grade or below who scored above 90 on AMC10A):

Alex Wei, grade 7 Van Antwerp, 127.5
William Wang, grade 7 Farnsworth, 123
Ziqing (Bill) Dong, grade 7 Farnsworth, 121.5
Philip Sun, grade 8, Acadia, 120
Isaac Smith, grade 8 heeg, 115.5
Gili Rusak, grade 8 Shaker, 111
Nathan Soedjak, grade 7 heeg/Colorado Math Circle, 97.5
Ryan Soedjak, grade 7 heeg/Colorado Math Circle, 97.5
Gideon Schmidt, grade 7 Iroquois, 93
Philip White, grade 7 heeg, 93
Zachary Benson, grade 8 Hebrew Academy of the Capital District, 91.5

AMC12A Young Student Honors
(for students in 10th grade or below who scored above 90 on AMC12A)

Matthew Babbitt, grade 10 heeg 120
Elizabeth Parizh, grade 10 Niskayuna HS 99
Aniket Tolpadi, grade 9 Niskayuna HS 97.5
Preston Law, grade 10 heeg 94.5

We will update this list as we get reports from students who took the A-date at other AMC A-date contest locations in the Capital District. AMC B-date qualifers will also be added when we get those reports.

Albany Academy update:
Congratulations to AIME qualifier Paul Rapoport on the 12A.

Emma Willard School update:
Congratulations to AIME Qualifiers Soyeun (Ashley) Cho and Wanwan Fei on the 12A.

Colorado Math Circle update:
Congratulations to Nathan and Ryan Soedjak, who both received Young Student Honors for scores of 97.5 on the AMC10A. Nathan and Ryan were active in our math circle before their family moved to Colorado, where they now attend the Colorado Math Circle. The photo below shows Nathan, Troy Wang, and Ryan working together at an Albany Area Math Circle middle school meeting last year.

Niskayuna update: Congratulation to AIME qualifier Alex Wei from Van Antwerp MS and to Gideon Schmidt from Iroquois MS for young student honors on AMC10A. Congratulations also to AIME qualifiers Elizabeth Parizh, Aniket Tolpadi, and Jason Xu on the 12A.

Guilderland HS update: Congratulations to AIME qualifier Zubin Mukerjee, a tenth grader at Guilderland High School, who scored 144 on the AMC10A. Congratulations also to Matt Walsh, who qualified for AIME on AMC12A.

Bethlehem HS update: Congratulations to AIME qualifier Ryan Cheu on the 12A.

Shenendahowa update: Congratulations to AIME qualifier Felix Sun on the 12A and Philip Sun on the 10A.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Harvard MIT Math Tournament congratulations!

Full HMMT public results are now available here. There were 100 teams and over 700 individuals participating, including many of the strongest math teams from all over the country, as well as teams from Beijing, Shanghai, Korea, and Nairobi.

Congratulations to our A-team (Albany Area Math Circle Steinmetz) for finishing 13th place on the A-division team round, amidst some very distinguished competition. Congratulations as well to AAMC B2 for placing 19th on the B-division team round and AAMC B1 for placing 28th.

Congratulations as well to the following students who ranked high in individual subject tests:

Matthew Babbitt
6th place individual Combinatorics/Geometry
25th overall individual sweepstakes

Ashley Cho
37th place individual Algebra/Geometry

Gurtej Kanwar
13th place individual Algebra/Calculus

Felix Sun
8th place individual Calculus/Combinatorics

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Chapter Congratulations!

Congratulations as well to Thomas Glozman of Maple Avenue Middle School, a member of our middle school math circle who won first place in the TriCounty MATHCOUNTS Chapter! Thomas is at right in the photo above working with Gideon Schmidt from Iroquois Middle School at one of last year's middle school math circle meetings. We are all about the building of bridges...solving problems together since 2001!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chapter MATHCOUNTS Congratulations!

Congratulations to all the awesome high school student coaches who have helped to coach the middle school students who did such an outstanding job at today's chapter.

The top seven teams all included students who have participated in our middle school math programs and/or have been coached by Albany Area Math Circle student coaches and/or advisors. Out of the top 20 individuals, 17 students have also participated in our middle school math circle programs and/or had AAMC student coaches.

First place team: Farnsworth Middle School

Three of the four students on Farnsworth's team have participated in our middle school math programs, as have several of their individual members. Student coach Zubin Mukerjee has done a particularly awesome job of working with William Wang and Bill Dong in his satellite middle school math circle. Bill Dong was 5th place individual; William Wang ranked 3rd on individual writtens, and won the Countdown Round. Alicia Chen, a member of the "persistent chickens" team from our middle school math circle made the Countdown Round also, ranking 11th.

Second place team: Shaker Junior High School

Gili Rusak, who ranked 2nd on writtens and made the semifinals in Countdown, led the Shaker team to a 2nd place team finish. Gili is already a member of our high school math circle, due to qualifying for AIME last year. She also participated in Zubin Mukerjee's satellite math circle before joining our high school group. Prior to that, she was a member of satellite math circle mentored by Matthew Babbitt and Zubin's older brother Zagreb. Her teammate Alex Cao, who ranked in the top 20, has been an active member in our middle school math circle meets for the past two years.

Third place team: Van Antwerp Middle School

Student coach Jason Xu and his assistant Suman Padhi coached the successful VA team, which had two students participating in Countdown: Alexander Wei (4th place individual) and Andrei Akhmetov (13th place individual.) Their teammate Jason Tang also made the top 20.

Fourth place team: Home Educators Enrichment Group

Student coach Matthew Babbitt and his assistant Jien Ogawa coached this team, which did a superb job on the team round. Team captain Isaac Smith made the Countdown Round in 12th place and his teammate Philip White also made the top 20.

Fifth place team: Acadia Middle School

Student coach Felix Sun coached the Acadia team, as well as Koda Middle School. Three of the team members made the Countdown Round: Jerry Qu (8th place writtens), Joe Lou (7th place writtens), and Phillip Sun, first place writtens.

Sixth place team: Iroquois Middle School

Iroquois student coaches were Aniket Tolpadi and Elizabeth Parizh. Team member Gideon Schmidt made the Countdown Round, while his teammates Rocket Ruona and Patrick Chi also made the top 20. Gideon, Rocket, and Patrick have all been members of our middle school math circle. Patrick has also been a regular at Zubin Mukerjee's satellite math circle in Guilderland.

Seventh place team: Hebrew Academy of the Capital District (HACD)

The HACD team is coached by Albany Area Math Circle advisor Alexandra Schmidt. Many of the HACD students have been participating in our math circle's fall math meets. Team member Zachary Benson qualified for the Countdown Round with a 9th place rank on individuals. For reasons of Sabbath observance, HACD students took the contest earlier in the week. HACD deserves special recognition for the awesome participation rates: their school is very small, with only 50 students in combined enrollment in all three eligible grades (6/7/8) but fully one-third of Hebrew Academy students in those grades are active and enthusiastic participants in their school MATHCOUNTS program! HACD mathletes celebrated afterwards with a party at their MATHCOUNTS coach's home. Her prodigious talents include the ability to make hot fudge and caramel sauce from scratch! (Click on the photo below for a clearer image of the mathletes' delighted expressions!)

A special shout-out to the newest team, Hackett Middle School from Albany City School District, which placed a very respectable 12th out of 21 teams, an awesome performance for a first outing for a brand new team that only started up in January.

The team's student coach was Hilly Adler, a student at Albany High School who is a former mathlete from Hebrew Academy. Hilly worked in concert with Hackett Middle School teacher coach Tamara Moffett. There were many bureaucratic obstacles to getting a team off the ground in a large urban school district. Kudos to Albany Area Math Circle advisor Alexandra Schmidt for supporting Hilly in being tenacious to make this team happen, and in providing advice about team coaching.

Shout-outs as well to Doyle Middle School coach Nancy Smith, whose team placed 10th. Nancy is a dedicated and experienced veteran coach whose students have recently begun participating in our middle school math meets. There are many challenges in coaching an inner city school team, and Nancy meets them all energetically. Several of her teams have gone to state and two of her mathletes have made it all the way to nationals. Nancy has recently started up an exciting and creative new outreach initiative to elementary schools in her district, bringing enthusiastic young mathletes to solve problems together even before they reach middle school.

Top 20 individuals

1. Phillip Sun Acadia
2. Gili Rusak Shaker
3. William Wang Farnsworth
4. Alex Wei Van Antwerp
5. Bill Dong Farnsworth
6. Noah Rudnick Shaker
7. Joe Lou Acadia
8. Jerry Qu Acadia
9. Zachary Benson Hebrew Academy of the Capital District
10. Gideon Schmidt Iroquois
11. Alicia Chen Farnsworth
12. Isaac Smith heeg
13. Andrei Akhmetov Van Antwerp
14. Jason Tang Van Antwerp
15. Jeremy Collison Farnsworth
16. Patrick Chi Iroquois
17. Rocket Ruona Iroquois
18. Billy Schmitt Schalmont
19. Phillip White heeg
20. Alex Cao Shaker

Thanks again to GE Global Research for general awesomeness in hosting our Chapter Competition and to all the volunteers who made it possible.

I'd also like to recognize the awesome math circle affiliated adult community volunteers who have helped to organize and coach teams: Bill Babbitt (heeg), Anil Tolpadi and Steve Schmidt (Iroquois), Hong Chen (Van Antwerp). Kudos as well to all the professional math teachers in the Capital District who sponsor teams at their schools. Without the support and leadership of adult sponsoring coaches, none of the 21 teams could have existed, let alone been as successful as they were!