Math 3794 Problem Seminar 2020 Spring

Welcome to the problem seminar and let’s have fun with mathematics!  Our intention is to have a great time while expanding our mathematical horizons in a challenging way.  In class, solutions are presented or problems are discussed with the aim of working toward solutions.  The problems will resemble the style of problems on the Math Olympiad or Putnam exam, with very basic prerequisites — MATH 1122, 1132, 121, 1152, 2142 — but sometimes involve difficult tricks.  We will try to rotate topics to cover as many problem-solving tricks as possible.

Even if you are not registered for this class, you are welcome to attend the lectures.

This course should be good preparation for the Calculus competition in Spring 2020, or the Putnam competition in Fall 2020.  Most, if not all, of you should plan to take these competitions. It is in no way required, but is a good way to enhance your problem-solving experience.

Course Organizers

Vasileios Chousionis MONT 325
Maksym Derevyagin MONT 310
Aurel Mihai Fulger MONT 323
Sean Li MONT 334
Ovidiu Munteanu MONT 434


Grading scheme

There will be homeworks assigned after the meetings, but we will not collect your solutions. For the first time this semester, there will be a final exam consisting of problems of similar difficulty to the homework problems. The letter grade of the class will be based only on the final exam.  The following table lays out the conversion.

  • A    90 and up;         B    75-90;        C    60-75;        D    50-60;    F below 50 .


Course Schedule

We will meet 7 times this semester, all on Monday 4:00-5:30 PM in room MONT 112. Here is a list of tentative dates and topics.


 Dates Instructor Topic
 February 10  Mihai Fulger Brain teasers
 February 24  Mihai Fulger Complex numbers

Practice Problems

 March 9 Maksym Derevyagin Polynomials

Practice Problems

 March 23 Maksym Derevyagin Polynomials
 April 6 Ovidiu Munteanu Matrices and Determinants
 April 20 Ovidiu Munteanu Matrices and Determinants
 April 27 Vasileios Chousionis Calculus Inequalities

Useful Resources

  • Kiran Kedlaya keeps a list of past Putnam problems here (after 1985)

Past Putnam Competition Results

2018 Putnam Competition

  • Team rank: 93
  • Top scores at UConn: 1. Ahmad-Fikri Anuar; 2. Thomas Strelecki ; 3.  Evan Faulkner, Mason Dicicco, Keegan T. Yao,

2017 Putnam Competition

  • Team rank: 103
  • Top scores at UConn: 1. John M. Cizeski; 2. Oliver F. Kisielius, Ahmad-Fikri Anuar; 3. Keegan T. Yao, Jake A. Murphy.

2016 Putnam Competition

  • Team rank: 49
  • Top scores at UConn: 1. Timothy Smits; 2. Patrick Adams, Surath Fernando, Vyas Krishnamurty; 3. Lindsay Cadwallader, Ellizabeth Lauri.

2015 Putnam Competition

  • Team rank: 60
  • Top scores at UConn: 1. Patrick Adams (top 500 nationwide); 2. Lindsay Cadwallader; 3. Timothy Smits.

2014 Putnam Competition

  • Team rank: 85
  • Top scores at UConn: 1. Daniel O’Connell (top 500 nationwide);   2. Patrick Adams;   3. Lindsay Cadwallader, Nicole Chubet, Neil Dokurno, Elizabeth Lauri.

Past Problem seminar pages