Putnam Competition

This site contains information of interest to OSU students intending to participate in the

William Lowell Putnam Competition
which is a mathematics problem-solving competition open to any students enrolled at a four-year undergraduate college or university who have not entered the competition four times in the past.

If you are enrolled at OSU and would like to participate this year, please send me an email at:

David Wright Email

Here are some Discussion Notes from past years that can give a feel for the competition problems.

The competition is on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 8:50 AM in MSCS 514. Please bring only pencils or pens, and No other materials.

Here are the official books and articles about the past Putnam Competitons:
The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition 1938-1964: Problems And Solutions
OSU Low Library 510.79 W719

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition 1965-1984: Problems And Solutions
OSU Low Library 510.79 W7195

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition 1985-2000: Problems And Solutions
OSU Low Library 510.76 K25w

Monthly Articles on the Putnam
Official articles in the American Mathematical Monthly with results, problems and solutions. Must have access to JSTOR from an okstate domain.

Here are some guides and practice problems:

Go ahead and try some of these. It is important to practice writing complete solutions down, even when you think you know how to do the problem. The details of writing often reveal aspects of the problem you didn't think about before.

The contest consists of two sessions 9 AM-12 noon and 2-5 PM, on the first Saturday in December. Please show up by 8:50 AM in MS 514. Contestants are given six problems to solve in each three-hour session.

The problems are very difficult, and even solving one is considered a good result. The grading is very rigorous, and the solutions must be complete and fully justified and explained. Each problem is worth 10 points, and so the maximum score is 120 points. The problems are so difficult a large portion of the competitors score 0 every year.

Still, a little bit of familiarity with the exam can go a long way to ensuring that you solve at least one or two of the problems. OSU students have had many very good performances over the past ten years, with the best being in 1997, when the team performance was 20th out of 300 schools and better than all the Big 12 schools and in fact many of the elite colleges in the nation.

Here are some useful links about problem-solving:
William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition
The contest's home page.
American Mathematics Competitions
An organization that promotes mathematical competitions. They have a problems directory.
Putnam Problem Datebase at The Art of Problem Solving
Hosted at the AMC
The Art of Problem Solving Wiki
All kinds of problem-solving resources
CRUX Mathematicorum
The Canadian Math Society's problem-solving journal.

Here is a link to historical results: Putnam Competition Winners

David Wright Email
Last modified: Wed Sep 30 17:51:43 CDT 2015