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UVI Team Showing Adds Up at Prestigious Math Contest

Dec. 9, 2004 – The University of the Virgin Islands joined the ranks of esteemed universities competing in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition earlier this week. The three students who competed in the six-hour exam will find out in March how their math skills compared to hundreds of other college students.
Started in 1938 to stimulate a healthy rivalry in mathematical studies, the contest is open to undergraduate students in colleges and universities of the United States and Canada, according to a release.
UVI Mathematics Professor Dr. Douglas Iannucci organized a team of three students, which competed in the Dec. 4 contest. The students were Meria Marcel, Andre Francis and Gurnish Sahni. The students had been preparing for the competition since September, when the team was selected.
The problems were based on concepts and theories taught to undergraduate mathematics majors, but, "They are difficult. They are by no means easy," Iannucci said.
There were 12 problems, worth 10 points each. To obtain full credit all the necessary work to justify an answer, and all necessary steps of a proof had to be shown. Each student worked on the problems individually and will be scored individually. The individual scores will be compiled for a team score.
"If they score any points at all, greater than zero, I ll be really happy," Iannucci said. "Not many schools score any points at all."
UVI will receive the Putnam Competition results in March. Prizes will be awarded to the departments of mathematics of the institutions with the five winning teams. Top prize is $25,000 to the department and $1,000 to each team member, according to the competition Web site. The five highest ranking individuals are designated Putnam Fellows by the Mathematical Association of America.
"I liked the challenge [of the competition], Marcel said, adding that the six-hour exam went by quickly. "It gave me an opportunity to see how much I ve learned at UVI during my four years," the senior mathematics major said.
Francis referred to the contest as a motivation and very interesting. He worked on three problems, making sure that he solved them thoroughly so that he might earn the maximum amount of points. Francis, who has a double major of chemistry and mathematics, said he hopes the competition will increase the level of mathematics awareness at UVI. "If we have it regularly, maybe the standard of mathematics among the students will improve," he said.
Iannucci, who also administers a mathematics competition on the St. Thomas campus, plans to enter a UVI team in the Putnam Competition each year as long as there is student interest.

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