The 2019 Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Championship

Luke Robitaille, a homeschooled freshman from Texas, put on a great performance on January 19 winning the 2019 Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Championship at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, Maryland. Here's Luke just after his victory:

The 12 contestants who qualified for the 2019 championship (see short profiles of the contestants):


Front, left to right: Praneet Mekala (Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI), Anudeep Golla (Fairview High School, CO), Steven Qu (Montgomery Blair High School, MD), and Olivia Guo (Concord College, UK). Back, l to r: Tristan Shin (Canyon Crest Academy, CA), Brian Liu (High Technology High School, NJ), Luke Robitaille (Robitaille Homeschool, TX), Max Guo (Sycamore High School, OH), Howard Halim (University of Toronto Schools, Canada), Michael Han (Iowa City West High School), Connor Gordon (American Heritage School, FL), and Alex Chung (Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, VA).

See the video of all the game action below--which includes a reading by the AMS Math Poetry Contest winners--a description of the semifinals and finals, as well as videos and photos from the awards breakfast that took place before the games.

(Semifinal two starts at about 40 minutes, math poetry around 1:16 [hour:minutes], and the finals start about 1:25.)

Game photos and description:


It was a Who Wants to Be a Mathematician first, as three contestants in each semifinal answered every question correctly, which earned all six of them a spot in the finals. Fortunately there were enough lecterns on stage to accommodate them in the finals. Tristan missed out on tying for first in game one by only 100 points.


FinalsThe six contestants who made it to the finals were (left to right): Brian Liu, Connor Gordon, Howard Halim, Michael Han, Luke Robitaille, and Steven Qu. Their finish in the finals determined their finish in the semifinals, and thus, their prize and cash amounts. Luke started out well, answering very quickly, and continued throughout the finals, answering incorrectly on only one of the questions that he was first to buzz in on. Brian was within striking distance of Luke on the last question, but Luke answered correctly on that question, so Brian wound up in second place. Each is pictured below, along with their giant uncashable checks, with AMS President Ken Ribet and AMS President-elect Jill Pipher .

Brian with his check Luke with his check

Maple software winnersMaplesoft was nice enough to award the second-place semifinal prizes to all four of the other contestants. They are pictured with AMS President Ken Ribet, AMS President-elect Jill Pipher, and Maplesoft's Tina George.



Below is a list of the prizes and cash won by each of the 12 semifinalists. For each cash prize, the contestant wins that amount and a matching amount is given to the math department of that student's school. Luke, who is homeschooled, directed his matching amount to his local math circle, the Mid-Cities Math Circle.


  • TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and \$5,000 from the AMS: Luke Robitaille, Robitaille Homeschool
  • TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and \$3,000 from the AMS: Brian Liu, High Technology High School
  • Maple 2018 from Maplesoft, and \$1,000 from the AMS: Connor Gordon, American Heritage School, Howard Halim, University of Toronto Schools; Michael Han, Iowa City West High School; and Steven Qu, Montgomery Blair High School)
  • AHA! Solutions by Martin Erickson and \$500, both from the AMS: Tristan Shin, Canyon Crest Academy, and Praneet Mekala, Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI
  • Exercises in (Mathematical) Style: Stories of Binomial Coefficients by John McCleary and \$500, both from the AMS: Anudeep Golla, Fairview High School, and Alex Chung, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
  • What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences, Vol. 10 by Dana Mackenzie and Barry Cipra and \$500, both from the AMS: Olivia Guo, Concord College, and Maximillian Guo, Sycamore High School
Brian with his check Luke with his check

Above left: Anudeep Golla with the Fairview High's Math Department check and the school's math club; right: Steven Qu with his math teacher Jeremy Schwartz and Montgomery Blair High School's check. Below left: Luke Robitaille with the Mid-Cities Math Circle (MC2); right: Alex Chung with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology math teacher Margaret Coffey.

Luke and the Mid-Cities Math Circle Alex with his teacher and check

Photos from the awards breakfast, hosted by Ken Ono:

Video of the awards breakfast:


Thank You

Our sponsors: Maplesoft and DigitalEd, the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Technology Sponsors; Art of Problem Solving, the Online Community Sponsor; Wolfram Research, the Good Thinking Society, the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, Texas Instruments; and John Wiley and Sons.

The championship judges: Stephen Davis, Davidson College, Katherine Socha, the Park School of Baltimore, and Susan Wildstrom, Walt Whitman High School.

Bill Butterworth (Who Wants to Be a Mathematician co-creator and tech guru), DePaul University.

AMS staffers: Annette Emerson, Samantha Faria, Robin Aguiar, Anita Benjamin, Jill Connolly, Nancy Hoffman, Louise Jakobson, and Don Luther, for helping that day.

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician and how to qualify for the championship.

Videos by Bill Butterworth, DePaul University, Samantha Faria, AMS Public Awareness Office, and PSAV. Text by Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Office.