This story was submitted by Harker math teacher Misael Fisico
The American Mathematics Competitions (AMC)
The 2012-13 school year proved to be a winning one for The Harker School as it continued to do very well in the highly regarded American Mathematics Competitions (AMC), which is run by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), responsible for selecting U.S. representatives for various international competitions, such as the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), the China All Girls Mathematical Olympiad and the European Girls Mathematical Olympiad.
AMC is a series of math competitions consisting of the AMC8, AMC10 and the AMC12. Top performing students in these contests are invited to move further to the next stage: the American Invitational Mathematical Examinations (AIME). Finally, students who perform well in the AIME take the proof-based USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO).
Last school year, about 250 upper school and middle school students participated in the first event – the AMC10 and the AMC12. Among these students, 50 exceptional students qualified to AIME, which is very unusual as the average number of AIME qualifiers per school is five students or fewer. Harker’s dominance did not end in the AIME. The average number of participants per school for USAMO and the Junior USA Mathematical Olympiad is only one student. However, Harker students reached another milestone by having five USAMO qualifiers and eight junior USAMO qualifiers. The Harker School is ranked second in the nation for having 13 student qualifiers in this very prestigious mathematics tilt. Students Vikram Sundar, grade 12, and Richard Yi, grade 11, were among the top 24 students in the nation and each were given the Honorable Mention Certificates from the USAMO and USAJMO, respectively. Junior Ashwath Thirumalai’s USAMO score also qualified him to the very selective Olympiad training program, the Math Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP). Thirumalai and Sundar both attended this training at the University of Nebraska in June 2013.
AMC10 and AMC12 were designed for high school students but Harker had two middle school students who took these tests and gave many high school students a healthy competition. Grade 7 (now grade 8) AIME qualifiers were Edgar Lin and Jimmy Lin while grade 8 (now grade 9) AIME qualifiers were Peter Wu, David Zhu, Quentin Delepine and Kai Ang.
In the upper school, grade 9 AIME qualifers were Jonathan Dai, Jessica Zhu, Anika Mohindra, Richard Yi, Michael Zhao, Grace Guan, Esther Wang, Jonathan Ma, Lawrence Li, Allison Wang and Rishabh Chandra, all now grade 10. Grade 10 (now grade 11) AIME qualifers were Steven Wang, Nitya Mani, Leo Yu, Stanley Xie, Ashwath Thirumalai, Andrew Zhang, David Lin, Suzy Lou, Matthew Huang, Cindy Liu, Sachin Peddada, Patrick Lin, Madavan Nair, Menghua Rachel Wu, Andrew Jin, Ayush Midha and Vivek Sriram.
Grade 11 AIME qualifiers were Vikas Bhetanabhotla, Vikram Sundar, Varun Mohan, Rahul Sridhar, Alex Pei, Kevin Zhu, Nihal Uppugunduri, Chris Fu, Albert Zhao, Meena Chetty, Andrew Wang, Pranav Batra, Josh Batra, Allen Chen and Gerry Zhou, all now seniors. Harker’s grade 12 AIME qualifier was Ashvin Swaminathan ’13.
The USAMO Harker qualifiers were Vikram Sundar, grade 12, recent graduate Ashvin Swaminathan, Varun Mohan, grade 12, Ashwath Thirumalai, grade 11 and Rahul Sridhar. The eight USAJMO qualifiers were Richard Yi, grade 10, Peter Wu grade 9, Nitya Mani, grade 11, Patrick Lin, grade 11, David Zhu, grade 9, Suzy Lou, grade 11, Michael Zhao, grade 10 and Cindy Liu. The director of the AMC, Steven Dunbar, personally congratulated teacher Misael Fisico for the exceptional and historical performance of the Harker students this school year.
Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad
One of the most highly respected mathematics Olympiads in the country is the Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad (BAMO), which is organized by various mathematicians in the Bay Area. Professors from Stanford University, University of California, San Francisco, University of San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, are among the active members of this proof-based competition. Harker earned many awards at the BAMO awarding ceremonies, which was held at UC Berkeley on March 10, with David Zhu, grade 9, and Ashwath Thirumalai, grade 11, as the grand winners. A total of 19 Harker students participated in the contest, which was held Feb. 26.
The following awards were given to our students: David Zhu, grand prize winner in BAMO8 category, Ashwath Thirumalai, first place in grade 10 and under category. Honorable mention BAMO12 awards were given to Vikram Sundar, grade 12, Suzy Lou, grade 11, Patrick Lin, grade 11, Nitya Mani, grade 11. Honorable Mention BAMO8 was given to Kai-Siang Ang, grade 9, Peter Wu, grade 9, and Edgar Lin, grade 8.
The Harker middle school placed third in the team competition with members David Zhu, Kai-Siang Ang, and Edgar Lin and the upper school also placed third with members Ashwath Thirumalai, Vikram Sundar and Suzy Lou.
Team participation awards are given to schools with students who are able to prove at least one of the Olympiad problems, and Harker upper school and middle school students placed second with members Lawrence Li, grade 10, Patrick Lin, grade 11, Suzy Lou, grade 11, Nitya Mani, grade 11, Varun Mohan, grade 12, Alex Pei, grade 12, Rahul Sridhar, grade 12, Vikram Sundar, grade 12, Ashwath Thirumalai, grade 11, Nihal Uppugunduri, grade 12, Allison Wang, grade 10, Richard Yi, grade 10, Peter Wu, grade 9, Kai-Siang Ang, grade 8, Edgar Lin, grade 8 and David Zhu, grade 9.
California Mathematics League, Mandelbrot Mathematics Contest
Every school year, the mathematics competitions group in the upper school participates in various competitions sponsored by different mathematics organizations throughout the country. These are usually given in five or six rounds from September to March. Thee contests are used as training materials in preparation for much bigger contests. Two of these contests are the California Mathematics League (CML) and the Mandelbrot Math Contests.
The CML tests were taken by Harker students on Oct. 16, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11, Jan. 15, Feb. 12 and March 12. In each round, students solved six problems. After six rounds, Varun Mohan, grade 12, and Cindy Liu, grade 11, both perfected the contest and were named first place winners, earning Harker its third consecutive first place award.
The annual Mandelbrot competition had five rounds in the competition: Nov. 7, Dec. 5, Jan. 2, Jan. 30 and Feb. 27. Students were given the option of participating in either the national contest or the regional contest.
In the national level competition, the Harker teams made it to the national leaderboard list of the Mandelbrot competitions. The Harker School Team 1’s score of 217 was ranked sixth nationally, while Team 2 had a score of 152 points and was still ranked nationally and is included in leaderboard list.
In the individual events, Harker students Varun Mohan, grade 12, and Ashwath Thirumalai, grade 11, were among the top-performing students with Mohan’s 58 points and Thirumalai’s 54 points.
Alex Pei, grade 12, Rahul Sridhar, grade 12, and Lawrence Li, grade 10, were included in the second tier list of top students.
In the third tier were Vikram Sundar, grade 12, David Lin, grade 11, and Richard Yi, grade 11.
In the Mandelbrot regional contests, California is its own region, known the Redwood Region. In the school standing the two Harker teams were also included in the leaderboard list, with Team 1 ranked fourth with a score of 253 points. The second Harker team had a score 184 points.
In the individual events, Cindy Liu, grade 11, was ranked fourth. Patrick Lin, grade 11, Suzy Lou, grade 11, and Nitya Mani, grade 11, joined Liu in the leaderboard list.
In the second tier list were Andrew Zhang, grade 11, with 44 points and Michael Zhao, grade 10, with 40 points.
The third tier list included Rahul Jayaraman, grade 11, scoring 38 points, Jonathan Ma, grade 10, with 38 points, Vivek Sriram, grade 11, with 34 points and Jessica Zhu, grade 10, scoring 33 points.
National Assessments Contests
Aside from CML and the Mandelbrot math contests, the National Assessment contests were also given in installment form: The Fall Startup Event was the very first contest taken by the Harker Math Club members every year. This was given on Sept. 27, 2012, and it was a fast-paced competition in which individuals have only 30 minutes to solve 100 problems. Harker students received individual awards, helping their team to place second in the nation. Richard Yi, grade 11, placed 1st, Allison Wang (grade 10) was second, and Lawrence Li, grade 10, placed 19th. Ashwath Thirumalai, grade 11, placed eighth, junior Rahul Jayaraman was 10th and juniors Sachin Peddada and Cindy Liu both tied for 21st place and David Lin, grade 11, and Patrick Lin, grade 11, both tied for 23rd place. Vikram Sundar, grade 12, placed fifth and Varun Mohan, grade 12, was 19th.
All members of the Harker Math Group also joined forces from April 10-17 and participated in the Collaborative Problem Solving Contest, also sponsored by the National Assessment Contests. This competition consisted of 15 intricate multipart questions that the entire school club collaborated on for the week. The fun experience got The Harker School a seventh place finish.
Math Prize for Girls Contest/Olympiad
The Mathematics Prize for Girls Contest started in 2009 in New York City, and it has become one of the most sought-after mathematics contests in North America. The first-place winner receives $25,000, the largest monetary math prize in the world. Since its inception, The Harker School girls have been traveling every year either to New York City or to Boston for this very prestigious contest for high school girls. Its goal is “to encourage young women with exceptional potential to become the mathematical and scientific leaders of tomorrow.”
The fourth annual contest was held on Sept. 22, 2012, at MIT, where 263 girls from across the United States and Canada competed for $49,000 in cash prizes. Students who qualified had an AMC 10A score of at least 115.5 points or at least 120 points in the AMC 10B. For students who took the AMC12, girls were invited if they had a score of at least 94.5 points in the AMC12A, or at least 99 points in the AMC 12B. Those scores match the scores needed to qualify for the AIME exam.
Four Harker girls traveled to MIT and participated in this exciting event: honorable mention awardees Cindy Liu, Nitya Mani and Suzy Lou and Lynda Tang ‘13.
After the Math Prize for Girls, the three honorable mention winners were among the top 44 students who were invited to take the 2012 Math Prize Olympiad, which was held Nov. 7, 2012. The Olympiad is a proof-oriented contest, consisting of four problems to be solved in four hours.
The Stanford Mathematics Tournaments, Berkeley Mathematics Tournament and Santa Clara University High School Mathematics Contest
The Harker School participated in interscholastic mathematics competitions as well. The three contests that Harker participated in last school year were the Santa Clara University High School Mathematics Contest on Nov. 12, 2012, the Stanford Mathematics Tournament (SMT) in February and the UC Berkeley Mathematics Tournament (BMT) in late March.
The Santa Clara University contest had nine open-ended problems. The results were released in February and Suzy Lou and Patrick Lin were awarded first place and second place, respectively.
In the SMT, the Harker Omega Team placed sixth overall while placing fifth in the team category. In the individual rounds, Varun Mohan won first place and third awards in the algebra category and advanced topics (precalculus) category, respectively. Nihal Uppugunduri originally tied for second place award in the calculus category and ended up fifth place after tie-breaking questions. During awards ceremony, Uppugunduri’s excitement was so contagious, and he was the picture of a very satisfied student. Albert Zhao, grade 12, also received the seventh place award. In the geometry category, Ashwath Thirumalai and Rahul Sridhar both tied for the eighth place awards.
SMT Harker participants from the Team Alpha were Peter Wu, Albert Zhao, Rahul Jayaraman, Jessica Zhu, Andrew Zhang, Nihal Uppugunduri, David Zhu and Lawrence Li.
Team Omega members were Varun Mohan, Richard Yi, Patrick Lin, Rahul Sridhar, Kevin Zhu, David Lin, Alex Pei and Ashwath Thirumalai.
In the BMT, Harker Team Omega also placed sixth overall. Participants from Harker at the BMT were Patrick Lin, David Lin, Ashwath Thirumalai, Richard Yi, Jessica Zhu, Suzy Lou, Nihal Uppugunduri, Lawrence Li, Allison Wang, Vivek Bharadwaj, Rahul Jayaraman and Kevin Zhu.
Purple Comet Mathematics Meet
The Harker Math Competitions Group also participated in an online mathematics contest last school year, the Purple Comet Mathematics Meet. This international team mathematics competition is designed for middle and high school students, and it was held on April 16. More than 3,000 teams from the United States and 21 other countries participated in this event. Interestingly, the contest was offered in 17 languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Many members of the math club signed up for this event and ended up forming four very strong teams, and each team received an award. The Harker Omega Team received a score of 27 points out of a possible 30 and received the fourth place award. The Harker Sophs Team received 26 points and an honorable mention award. The Harker Frosh Team and the Harker Mixed Team got 24 points and 21 points, respectively and both qualified for honorable mention awards as well.
The T1 Harker Omega Team was composed of Varun Mohan, Ashvin Swaminathan ‘13, Alex Pei, Rahul Sridhar, Nihal Uppugunduri and Vikram Sundar. The T2 Harker Sophs Team was Ashwath Thirumalai, Cindy Liu, Patrick Lin, Suzy Lou, Sachin Peddada and Matthew Huang, grade 11. The T3 Harker Frosh Team was made up of Richard Yi, Allison Wang, Michael Zhao, Lawrence Li, Jessica Zhu, and Grace Guan, grade 10. The T4 Harker Mixed Team was composed of Andrew Zhang, Nitya Mani, Albert Zhao, Jonathan Ma, Vivek Bharadwaj and David Lin.
The CHMMC Caltech Harvey Mudd Math Competition, the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament and The American Regions Mathematics League
In addition to the contests that are officially sponsored by adviser Misael Fisico, members of the Harker Mathematics Competitions Group also participated in other contests outside of the Bay Area. Contestants were eager to join in as many math contests as possible. Thus, they formed alliances with their equally talented math friends from the neighboring schools and they traveled to Southern California and participated in the 2012 Fall CHMMC Caltech Harvey Mudd Math Competition on in November at Harvey Mudd College. Students of the CalTech and Harvey Mudd mathematic clubs sponsored the contest. Teammates Ashwath Thirumalai and Rahul Sridhar received the third honors award while teammates David Lin and Richard Yi received fifth honors award.
These students, together with Nihal Uppugunduri, also traveled to Massachusetts in November for the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament.
Ashwath Thirumalai and Richard Yi were also part of the winning San Francisco Bay Area Team in the recently concluded American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) held at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas in June.
Mexican Mathematical Olympiad
In November, Varun Mohan traveled to Mexico together with the United States team and participated in the Mexican Mathematical Olympiad. He was so proud of his accomplishment since he not only received a silver medal, but was able to express himself verbally and in written form in Spanish. The contest had more than 200 participants and there were many U.S. teams. Mohan’s team had four students from Long Island, Chicago and Virginia. He was just a few points away from the gold medal award and wrote his mathematical proofs in Spanish.
The Harker Mathematics Competitions Group
The Harker Mathematics Competitions Group is student driven. The club conducts various contests during club activities on Wednesdays during long lunch. The contests that are taken on Wednesdays serve as the training/experiences in preparation for the big contests that are usually held in February and March every year. In special events, students are also assigned as team leaders or team captains. Invitations have already been given out for the Math Prize for Girls, which will take place at MIT in early September. Veteran Harker contestants are now forming a team that will compete at the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament that will take place Nov. 9 and Feb. 22, 2014 at MIT, and also the Caltech Harvey Mudd Contest which will happen on Nov. 23, at CalTech.