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Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2007 Joint Mathematics Meetings

Game contestants and Mike

"I have been meaning to contact you to let you know how great we all thought the competition was. Thank you for having it."

"The students had a great time at the game as well as in the sessions they went to. Thanks for all your work in making it so successful."

"This whole experience reminded me of contests I took as a high schooler, and how much it boosted my confidence and opened doors for me. I'm a second-year teacher, often wondering whether my career change (from mechanical engineering) was a smart move. Events like this certainly help make me want to stay in the profession."

On January 5, the first day of the 2007 meeting, Who Wants to Be a Mathematician returned to its roots – the first game ever was in New Orleans at the 2001 Joint Mathematics Meetings. Alden Adolph of the Academy of the Sacred Heart celebrated Who Wants to Be a Mathematician’s return in style by winning $2000.

Below are the eight contestants (pictured near the top of the page, listed left to right) and game emcee Mike Breen.

  • Parker Smith, Mandeville High School
  • Arielle Drucker, Mandeville High School
  • Harry Chan-Maestas, Covington High School
  • Richard Otis, Covington High School
  • Mike
  • Alden Adolph, Academy of the Sacred Heart
  • Samaneh Khoshini, Lusher Charter School
  • Mark Correa, Jesuit High School
  • Chetan Dargan, Jesuit High School
Half of the audience The other half of the audience

Game one contestants

Game one contestants, pictured at left (front, left to right; back, left to right): Chetan Dargan, Samaneh Khoshini, Richard Otis, and Parker Smith. Samaneh, a sophomore, won game one when she was the only contestant to get the last question of the game correct. She advanced to the bonus round by using her knowledge of geometry and trigonometry to determine the right answer. (At right, Richard explains his answer to a question.)

Richard Otis explains an answer


Alden and Harry

At left, Alden Adolph and Harry Chan-Maestas. At right, Mark Correa and Arielle Drucker. In game two, no one got the last question correct, but Alden had answered many of the others correctly so that she qualified for the bonus round: One question worth $2000.

Mark and Arielle


This was the first time that both game winners were female.

Alden and Samaneh

Game contestants and Mike

Samaneh and Alden had three minutes to answer the bonus question. After time expired, the audience (mostly mathematicians) was polled for its preference. The audience and Alden both chose the correct response, which added $2000 to Alden’s college fund.


Alden and Mike

Here are the prizes won by the contestants.

  • $2000 from the AMS and a TI-89 Titanium graphing calculator from Texas Instruments: Alden Adolph
  • TI-89 Titanium graphing calculator from Texas Instruments: Samaneh Khoshini
  • Maple 10 software from Maplesoft: Harry Chan-Maestas and Richard Otis
  • Calculus by Anton, Bivens and Davis from John Wiley and Sons: Arielle Drucker and Parker Smith
  • What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences from the AMS: Mark Correa and Chetan Dargan

Thanks to game sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for their prizes and support of the game. Thanks also to the New Orleans area teachers for participating in the qualifying process and the game.

Sheraton salutes the LSU football team on the night of the Sugar Bowl
The Sheraton New Orleans welcomes mathematicians with its tribute
to the LU-decomposition but, unfortunately, no one ran the display through spell check.

Photographs by Wayne Catalano, by Who Wants to Be a Mathematician judge and co-creator Bill Butterworth of the DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences, and by AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen (emcee).

See other highlights of the 2007 Joint Mathematics Meetings.

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.