They hit the jackpot, all right - a real feather in the cap of mathematics education at Chalmers:
"It's a fun contest to participate in no matter how it goes, but obviously it's great to win. It feels really good," said the happy winners.
The Nordic university-level mathematics team-competition (NMC), which is the competition's formal name, is a team competition for undergraduate students of the natural sciences and technology.
The competition is organized by university professors from the Nordic countries and is supported by the Mathematicians’ Societies of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. It was held this year for the sixth time.
"It is a contest of pure mathematics. You could say that the data is about proving different things, rather than on solving 'real' problems," they explain.
It is not the first time that students from the university reaped success in the NMC. Last year, Chalmers competed with two teams that placed in second and fifth place in the tough competition.
Thomas Bååth Sjöblom, Anders Martinsson and Olof Salberger were on board back then, too, and were able to benefit from their previous experiences:
"The problems seemed easier than in previous years. That's probably partly because most of us have been through this before, so we knew how we would approach things on a purely practical level, and partly because we complemented each other well. We come from different years and have slightly different mathematical interests.”
This year the team added Marcus Aronsson, which boosted the team all the way to first place, a position Chalmerists share with a team from the University of Helsinki.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
"Everyone but Thomas studies applied physics, Marcus is a first-year, Olof is a second-year and Anders is in his fifth year. Thomas is a fourth-year in Engineering Mathematics. We all think math and math competitions are fun and we've all participated in math competitions before.” In particular, they all took part in the International Mathematics Olympiad, IMO, during their final year of high school.
This year, a total of twelve teams from universities from all Nordic countries took part in the competition. Chalmers was one of four Swedish teams, and the only one to take home a medal. The teams from the Royal Institute of Technology, Lund University and Gothenburg University came in fourth, seventh and eighth places.
The only reward for the contest is the honor of winning, and the results are determined entirely online.
"During the competition, you could be wherever you wanted and use all kinds of resources, anything from computers to books. But of course, asking someone outside the team for help was not permitted. All teams competed at home at their own universities. On Friday at 12:00, the organizers uploaded the questions to their website, and the teams had until Tuesday at 18:00 to solve the problems, write everything out and send in their solutions,” the Chalmerists explain.
But not only did Marcus Aronsson, Thomas Sjoblom Bååth, Anders Martinsson and Olof Salberger win first place -- they even managed to snag the maximum 60 points in the contest, an extraordinary feat.
Jana Madjarova is senior lecturer at the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Chalmers. She has followed the students since high school and trained them for the International Mathematics Olympiad. They have all been her students at a later stage as well.
Jana is thrilled and very proud of the quartet's success:
"The results are outstanding and a testament to both the students' talent and the high quality of mathematics education at Chalmers. In order to solve these problems you have use creative thinking, but that’s not enough -- you also have to be very knowledgeable," she says.Text:
Michael NyståsPhoto: Setta AspströmCAPTION:
Here are the Chalmerists who took home first prize in the Nordic mathematics competition (NMC) from left, Marcus Aronsson, Thomas Bååth Sjöblom, Anders Martinsson and Olof Salberger. Photo: Setta AspströmContact information
Thomas Bååth Sjöblom, email@example.com, tel. 0735-541027Read more about the math competition >>>cc.oulu.fi/~phasto/competition/index2012.html