It is great that the AMS is able to conduct this competition which values and encourages mathematical talent. While sports are usually celebrated, it is wonderful that students interested in mathematics can also be encouraged. I sincerely hope that many more students gain the opportunity to participate in this competition.


Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2017 ARML Competition

A team from the San Francisco Bay Area won $3,000 (total) and one TI-Nspire each playing a team version of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), which is the western site of the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) competition. The game was a special event at the two-day competition. Here are the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA) contestants just after their victory:

The ARML competition at UNLV featured participants from the western part of the U.S. as well as from Pacific nations who competed as 15-person teams.

In the team version of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, each team had three members. For each question, one team member answered individually and the other two worked together. The two team members entered their answer, and the individuals entered their answer separately, for 100n/2 points and 100n points (for question n), respectively. The team member who answered individually rotated among the three team members. There were six questions in each game, so each team member worked individually on two questions and with a team member on the other four questions.

Four teams participated in each game, while other participants in the ARML competition watched. Here are the team members from game one (from China, Colorado, Northern Nevada, and Southern California):

Game one participants

and from game two (from Korea, Oregon, Wild Wild West, and SFBA):


The Who Wants to Be a Mathematician contestants were cheered on by about 400 ARML Western Site participants.


Here is the final screen from game one, showing the order of the teams from that game. The win earned the Colorado team a total of $500 (eventually increased to the next multiple of three) and a TI-Nspire CX for each team member. The win also gave Colorado a spot in the Square-Off Round against the eventual game two winner.

Game one order of finish
Southern California team

The SFBA team won a close match in game two, edging out the teams from Wild Wild West, Oregon, and Korea. To the right is the last question from game two.

Game two order of finish
Last question of game two

The Colorado and SFBA teams then went head-to-head on the Square-Off question, which SFBA was first to answer correctly. This earned them another \$500 and a chance at the \$2,000 Bonus Question, which they could work on as a team. The question was a tough one, about probability, but SFBA answered correctly to bring the team's winnings to $3,000.

Below is a photo of the Southern California team, half of the Maple 2017 winners (the other Maple 2017 winners, Wild Wild West, had to leave before we could get a photo):

Southern California team

Below are the cash and prizes awarded to the teams. The cash amounts are the team totals, but each individual on the teams won a copy of the corresponding books and software.

  • TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and $3,000 from the AMS: Arav Karighattam, Wentinn Liao, and Ishika Shah (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and $501 from the AMS: Hongyi Chen, Avi Swartz, and Hannah Zhang (Colorado)
  • Maple 2017 from Maplesoft: Benjamin Chen, Jennifer Choi, and Jason Ye (Southern California); and Maxwell Thum, Allen Wu, and Kendall Yu (Wild Wild West)
  • Calculus with Early Transcendentals from John Wiley and Sons: Paolo Adajar, Vishwath Ganesan, and Sarah MacHarg (Northern Nevada); and Jonathan Guo, Kaylee Jeong, and Anders Olsen (Oregon)
  • Mathematical Understanding of Nature: Essays on Amazing Physical Phenomena and Their Understanding by Mathematicians from the AMS: Robyn Na Hyun An, Hyeon Woo Kim, and Brian Lee (Korea); and Shundong Li, Wenhao Song, and Entong Zhou (China)

Thanks very much to our sponsors: Maplesoft, the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Technology Sponsor; Art of Problem Solving, the Online Community Sponsor; Texas Instruments; and John Wiley and Sons. Thanks also to those who helped bring the game to ARML and helped make it come to life that day: ARML President Paul Dreyer, Western site coordinator Matt Schneider, Caroline Kinyua, Kendra Brashear, and Jiyeong Gu.

Find out more about ARML.

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician

Video by Who Wants to Be a Mathematician co-creator and tech wizard Bill Butterworth, DePaul University. Almost all photos (except the game one and game two contestant photos) by James Toller. Text by Mike Breen, who can be seen below impersonating a proctor during the Super Relay round.

Mike passing out Chinese and English versions of relay questions


American Mathematical Society