MAA Logo

Putnam Problem-Solving Seminar

The Putnam Mathematical Competition is the most prestigious math contest for undergraduate students in the U.S. and Canada. The exam is designed to test creative thinking in addition to technical competence, and is held every year on the first Saturday of December. The problems range across the undergraduate mathematics curriculum, but most do not require specialized knowledge of mathematics beyond calculus.

Unlike standard textbook problems, where many of them are quite similar, Putnam problems are challenging (and fun!) precisely because it is generally not immediately obvious how to approach them. There are some standard techniques that often can be useful to start making progress towards a solution, but a good amount of practice is needed to develop an intuition of when to apply each one. For this reason, we hold the Putnam Problem-Solving Seminar at OU each fall: we meet weekly to solve Putnam-style problems and learn about some problem-solving strategies.

Anyone interested in problem-solving is welcome at the seminar, whether they’re thinking of participating in the competition or not. Working on difficult, but interesting, mathematical problems is a good way to improve your analytical abilities and have fun at the same time. You’ll not only be better at mathematics proper, you’ll be able to work better in any field that requires analytical reasoning!

More information can be found here: