OCMC Places 4th at Caltech-Harvey Mudd Math Competition

by Michelle Chen, Sage Hill School, Class of 2016

One windy morning of Saturday, November 23, 2013, over 300 participants in 50 different teams from all over California squeezed into the Baxter Hall in Caltech, some teams overflowing onto the steps and the floor, for the annual Caltech-Harvey Mudd Math Competition. The CHMMC, a student-run math competition for high school students, aims to encourage interest in math by providing students an opportunity to work on extremely challenging problems while meeting other students who are interested in math.

After registration and signing in at the Baxter Hall, the two Orange County Math Circle teams were given their team numbers and were split into Group A. Disbanding, they left the hall to disperse into various rooms across campus to take their Team and Power Rounds, while Group B teams spread out in the hall to attempt the difficult problems in the Individual Round. After they were done, the OCMC teams returned to the Hall to complete their individual exams. The team round consists of a Power Question as well as a Short Answer part, both to be done in a mere 75 minutes after a 5-minute reading period. These are both equally weighed. The Power Question consists of 10 extremely challenging problems, along with full justifications of all answers. The Short Answer part of the team round has 10 questions with numerical or algebraic answers that will not need to be justified. In the Individual Round, on the other hand, the students closely examine fifteen questions for an hour.


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Then came lunch, in which masses of students convened in front of the Baxter Hall to receive their pizza. After that, the participants entered the hall again to participate in the Mixer Round, which does not count towards the scores but is a fun round that has cleverly patterned answers. Afterward, while a Caltech professor engaged everyone in the auditorium in an intriguing but arduous discussion about multiple dimensions and Bezout’s Theorem, the top tied scorers left the room to participate in the tiebreaker, which determined the eventual placing of each of the winners.

Finally, everyone watched enthusiastically for the long awaited awards, as the speakers announced the prizes that each winner would get. Sitting right in the third row, our two Orange County Math Circle teams were ecstatic when Orange County A was announced in 4th place. As Aran Komatsuzaki, Eric Xu, Michelle Chen, Calvin Qi, Thomas Kwa, and Danny Semeniuta went to the front of the auditorium, they were each given a medal and a copy of MATLAB, and then received the 4th place team trophy. Throughout the rest of the awards ceremony, as the team and individual winners were called, the OCMC teams cheered loudly, knowing that they had achieved yet another milestone in the course of mathematical success.

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