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 Providence College

Contestants with Mike


On Pi Day (3-14) 2005, eight Rhode Island students competed in two games of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at Providence College, and it came down to one bonus question for $2000 for William Shore, a junior at Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, RI.

William thinking


William had just won a very exciting and closely contested game of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician to earn the chance at the bonus question. Presented with the question, he thought for about two minutes, entered an answer, then changed his mind and switched his answer with about 15 seconds remaining in his allotted time. Before the correct answer was revealed, William explained his thought process to the audience and what had caused him to change his answer. It was a good thing that William did change, because his final answer was the correct one, netting him the bonus prize of $2000.

William's dramatic finale was the culmination of the two games. The contestants and the prizes they won are below.

Game One:

  • Miriam Klein, Classical High School: Maple 9.5 from Maplesoft

  • Geoff Beresford, Barrington High School: TI-89 Titanium from Texas Instruments

  • Caleb Martin, Bishop Hendricken High School: Calculus from John Wiley & Sons

  • Kristen Girard, Cumberland High School: What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences from the AMS




Front: Geoff and Kristen; Back: Miriam and Caleb



Game Two:

  • William Shore, Rocky Hill School: $2000 from the AMS and Maple 9.5 from Maplesoft

  • Alexander Marcus, The Wheeler School: TI-89 Titanium from Texas Instruments

  • Ben Gaines, Cranston High School West: Calculus from John Wiley & Sons

  • Allison Taggart, North Kingstown High School: What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences from the AMS





Front: William and Allison; Back: Ben and Xander




Winners of the two games along with emcee and AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen are pictured below. Miriam Klein answered all the questions in the first game correctly, but missed the bonus question. Alexander Marcus, who tied with Ben Gaines for second place, was competing in Who Wants to Be a Mathematician for the fifth straight year (he first qualified as an eighth grader). Alexander and Ben competed in a tie-breaker, which Alexander won, thus earning him second place in the second game.


Game winners and Mike




Some of the audience

Game two action

A large and enthusiastic crowd of about 150 students, teachers, and AMS staff turned out to see the games. Also attending were Providence Journal reporter Gina Macris and photographer Gretchen Ertl who covered the games for the paper. Macris talked with each contestant after the games and got some nice quotes for her article.

The AMS thanks Frank Ford, chair of the Providence College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Lynne DeMasi for coordinating the logistics for the event, and congratulates all the students and teachers who participated.

Photographs by Bill Butterworth of DePaul University and Sandy Frost of the AMS.


American Mathematical Society