Department Of Mathematics, Kansas State University

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April 2017 : Undergraduate mathematics students succeed in the Putnam competition

Seven Kansas State University students have placed highly in the 77th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the most prestigious mathematics contest for undergraduates at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. According to results released by the Mathematical Association of America, the Kansas State University team finished in the top 18 percent of the 568 colleges and universities and 4,164 students that participated in the competition. The team also had one member who placed in the top 26 percent in the competition: Aaron Messerla, senior in mathematics, Manhattan.

Along with Aaron, team members and their placements in the competition: Daniel Bramucci, senior in mathematics and computer science, Junction City, top 28 percent; Nicholas Donohoue, senior in mathematics and physics, Manhattan, top 32 percent; Reid Erdwien, senior in mathematics and physics, Manhattan, top 32 percent; Tristan Wells Filbert, senior in mathematics and physics, Wichita, top 38 percent; Eric Giunta, junior in mathematics and mechanical engineering, Leawood, top 41 percent; and Caden Laptad, senior in mathematics and mathematics education, Olathe, top 51 percent.

The competition takes place annually on the first Saturday of December. It consists of 6 problems in the morning (A problems) and 6 more difficult problems in the afternoon (B problems). Putnam problems are notoriously challenging. For instance, here is this year's B3 problem: Suppose that S is a finite set of points in the plane such that the area of triangle ABC is at most 1 whenever A, B, and C are in S. Show that there exists a triangle of area 4 that (together with its interior) covers the set S. Each Fall semester, several Mathematics Department faculty take turn running the Putnam Seminar, which is intended to coach interested students towards the competition. Students may enroll in MATH 499 B Top/Putnam Seminar for 0 or 1 credit using the credit option. For more information contact

Coaches for the university's Putnam competition team include K-State Professors David Auckly, Ivan Blank, Todd Cochrane, Xiannan Li, Zongzhu Lin, Tom Muenzenberger, Gabriel Nagy, Virginia Naibo, Christopher Pinner, Pietro Poggi-Corradini, Rustam Sadykov, Craig Spencer, Victor Turchin, Dan Volok, Anna Zemlyanova, and Ilia Zharkov.