Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2006 SACNAS National Conference


Luis Guerrero, a senior at the University of California, San Diego, won $2000 from the AMS and a TI89 Titanium graphing calculator from Texas Instruments in the game Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) national conference in Tampa, FL October 28. Guerrero won an exciting game in which 200 points separated the top three contestants.
Contestants (left to right in the picture):


The game took place during the conference's Saturday morning breakfast and was attended by over 500 people. Although the questions were not easy, the hardest part for the contestants might have been not spilling eggs diablo on their signaling devices.




During the game, each of the contestants offered good explanations for their choices, but the most personal explanation came from Michelle Bettelheim. Regarding a question about the birthday problem (In a group of people, what is the chance that at least two people have the same birthday?), Michelle said that she and her mother have the same birthday, which had led her to do a paper on the problem. Because of her research, she knew that in a random group of 23 people, there is a 5050 chance that at least two people have the same birthday.
Luis finished in first place by 100 points, which gave him a shot at the $2000 bonus question, which concerned the Fibonacci sequence. Luis saved his "Help" for the bonus question and used it wisely, because he was a little unsure about his answer.


In fact, he changed his answer several times during the three minutes given to answer the question, but finally settled on the choice that both he, his helper, and the audience preferred. It was the correct choice and it earned him (but not his helper or the audience) $2000 from the AMS.
Prizes won by the six contestants:
 $2000 from the AMS and a TI89 Titanium graphing calculator from Texas Instruments: Luis Guerrero
 Maple 10 from Maplesoft: Huimei Lin
 Calculus by Anton, Bivens and Davis from John Wiley and Sons: Luis de la Torre
 What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences by Barry Cipra from the AMS: Jaret Flores
 Four humorous math tshirts from the AMS: Michelle Bettelheim
 A tshirt and a book from the AMS: Emmanuel Morales Butler
Some of the helpers and Huimei after the game
It was a very early morning for the audience and the contestants, but a worthwhile one as they all enjoyed the game. The AMS thanks everyone for participating, with special thanks to Ricardo Cortez (Tulane University) and Ivelisse Rubio (University of Puerto RicoHumacao) for their help with the game. The AMS also thanks Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for supporting Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.
Photographs by Who Wants to Be a Mathematician judge and cocreator Bill Butterworth of the DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences, and by AMS Public Awareness Officers Annette Emerson (judge) and Mike Breen (emcee).
Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.