Old Dominion University
A to Z Index  |  Directories


College of Sciences


Department of Mathematics and Statistics





Friendly Putnam Problem Solving Group

Faculty contact: Dr. Richard Noren (Phone: 683-3889, Email: rnoren@odu.edu)

We meet Thursdays 12:30-1:20 (please ask Dr. Noren for information about location). One or two problems are added to our list each week and everyone meets and talks about ideas on problems nobody has solved yet. Students present solutions to those which are solved. There is lively talk and exchange of ideas. It is a fun and friendly setting in which we can share our ideas on problems of interest.

Here are the weekly problem lists in reverse chronological order:

About Putnam Competition

The Putnam Competition itself is the premier mathematics competition in North America for undergraduate students. It is a Mathematical Association of America (MAA) event. In 2009, the competition is held on Saturday, December 5. There is a 3 hour morning session from 10-1 followed by a 2 hour lunch break and the 3 hour afternoon session 3-6. Each session has 6 problems. The problems are 10 points each so the maximum possible score is 120. There is both individual and team competition. Every individual who participates is part of the individual competition. Three are selected (by an October deadline) to be the team. Teams like Harvard, MIT etc win. The ODU team scored high enough to be listed as a 'named' team in the 2008 competition for the first time. We also had one individual who was only 1 point away from being a 'named' individual. The list of named individuals is publicized and many graduate programs in mathematics use them for recruiting and/or give financial support.

Although challenging, the problems do not require deep mathematical machinery. Many problems are accessible to students who have only had Calculus. Accessible does not mean easy, as the median is normally 0, 1, 2 or 8. Successfully solving a problem normally places the student at or above the median.

More information about the Putnam Competition can be found on these pages:



Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
Phone: 757-683-3882 , Fax: 757-683-3885, E-mail: mvenable@odu.edu