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Each year students from UNC compete in the Virginia Tech and Putnam mathematical competitions. Last year our top-scorer in the Virginia Tech contest placed 24th nationally and several of our students placed in the top 10% for the Putnam competition. The Virginia Tech contest will be held on Saturday 26th October, from 9 to 11:30am. The Putnam competition will be held on TBD. Both competitions will involve a set of problems that will test your problem solving abilities. They will take place at UNC and are free to enter.

Our Director of Graduate Studies, Justin Sawon, runs the weekly problem solving sessions to help entrants prepare for these competitions. Many students have also found these sessions helpful in their other math classes. These sessions will be run as a section of MATH294, but everyone is welcome to participate in these sessions, even if they are not registered for MATH294. Here are the course details:

Title: MATH294 Problem solving seminar
Instructor: Justin Sawon
Meeting: Weekly, Wednesday 4:40 – 6:00 pm in Phillips 330 (the math common room)
Hours: 1 credit hour
Grading: To achieve a passing grade students must regularly attend and actively participate in the weekly problem solving sessions. Students are also expected to compete in the Virginia Tech and Putnam mathematical competitions.

The first problem solving session will be on Wednesday 21st August. I will send out a problem set for you to work on before then. If you are not able to solve any of the problems immediately, that is perfectly okay: I can give you some hints later.

To register for this course, you should talk to Justin Sawon at the first session and give him your name and PID, or email him this information at ( *Note that registering for MATH294 is entirely optional: you don’t have to register for MATH294 to participate in these sessions and/or the competitions. In particular, if you don’t anticipate attending every week, it would be better not to register. Please let Justin Sawon know by email ( if you want to participate and are unable to attend the first session.*