Students Have Right Solutions for First-Year Math Contest

Sunday, December 23, 2018
Professor John Rickert congratulates student at math contest

The top two solvers in this year’s Alfred R. Schmidt Freshmen Mathematics Competition were Bohdan Vakhitov (left), second place, and Reed Phillips (right), first place. A total of 25 students took part in the exam this fall.

First-year students tested their problem-solving skills in areas of advanced algebra and geometry, probability and number theory by answering six problems over the course of two hours in the 30th Alfred R. Schmidt Freshman Mathematics Competition.

Reed Phillips, a freshman computer science student from Champaign, Ill., was the only student to correctly solve all six problems among the 25 students gathering Sept. 27 to participate in this year’s exam.

“I have always liked solving problems and I suspect that I always will,” he says. “A couple of the problems (on the exam) required a lot of thought and reasoning, but I finally got them.”

Correctly answering five problems for second place was Bohdan Vakhitov, a freshman computer science major from the Ukraine.

He says, “I like to figure out the logic within each problem, just not coming up with the correct formula for the solution. The problems were really challenging. However, one was so simple and straight forward that you kept second guessing yourself and your answer. Then, you just needed to be satisfied and go onto the next problem.”

Tying for third place were three students from China: Zixin Fan, a mechanical engineering major; and Jiasheng Hu and Xianglong Li, both computer science students.

Earning meritorious mention recognition were Colin Beach, Kaiyuan Jin, Brendan King, Xingheng Lin, Trieu Vy Luan, Duncan McKee, Connor Ozatalar and Yizhu Zhao.

Honorable mention honors went to Evan Cochrane, Ruixin Feng, Shengjun Guan, Jackson Hajer, Zachary Kelly, Taryn Perry, Ian Quick and Dylan Verst.

Award winners received book and cash prizes, depending on their place finish, along with a subscription to the Mathematical Association of America’s Math Horizons magazine.

The competition was started in 1989 to honor Schmidt, a 1949 Rose-Hulman alumnus who returned to teach mathematics on campus for 46 years, until his retirement in 1995. He died in 2007.

This year’s contest problems were compiled by mathematics professors Tim All and John Rickert. Colleagues David Finn and John McSweeney assisted in the grading.