team problem solving

Problem Solving

Problem Solving and competition-style math plays an interesting role at Mathcamp: it can be a piece of your mathematical experience, or your primary mathematical focus, or play little to no role at all. As with all subjects, our goal is to make problem-solving resources and activities available to students and invite students to choose what interests them most. We offer two weekly competitions, as well as one problem-solving classes each day on average. Among both students and staff, you will find people who have won medals at the IMO and people who have never done a problem-solving competition in their lives. And of course, in the Mathcamp library, you'll find lots of books on problem solving (and people who want to talk about problems with you!).

Team Problem Solving is an olympiad-type competition held weekly throughout camp on Wednesday evenings. Campers can opt to participate in advance of camp and can choose between two types of teams:

  • Hardcore teams are competing to win! Team members are encouraged not to quit mid way through camp (because they would be letting their team down). Team members cannot be shuffled and teams cannot merge.
  • Mellowcore teams are solving just for fun (although the problems are the same). Team members may choose to skip one or various weeks without feeling guilty. With staff permission, teams can merge if they have lost too many members.

The results of the five weeks are added, and prizes for the winning teams are awarded at the final assembly.

relays on the quad

"Relays" are a fun, light-hearted Saturday afternoon activity at Mathcamp, and most of camp participates: it's a chance to run around outside in the sunshine and solve quick math problems. Campers organize themselves into teams of 5-7 people and again opt for "mellowcore" (we're just here to relax) or "hardcore" (we're in it to win it) and spend an hour solving problems as a team: logic problems, games, 'traditional' contest problems -- you name it. (The prize for winning may involve candy.)

There is usually the option to take one Problem-Solving Class each day, ranging from beginner to advanced (Olympiad) level. Past problem solving instructors at Mathcamp have included Dorin Andrica (Chairman, Department of Geometry, Babes-Bolyai University in Romania; Member of the National Council for the Romanian Mathematical Olympiad) and Bogdan Enescu (IMO Gold Medalist 1978, Bronze Medalist 1977, 1979; Coach of the Romanian IMO team, 1989 - present).

Spotlight on a Problem-Solving Class: Olympiad Problem Solving with Calculus

Olympiad Problem Solving with Calculus, four chilis, with Bogdan Enescu.  There are many math competitions around the world these days. Almost every country has its national olympiad and there are also regional and international ones.  In several such competitions calculus problems are often proposed to the students (I mention only two: William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition and the International Mathematical Competition).  I will show some nice calculus problems and some tools and tricks to deal with them.

Wondering about those funny symbols next to the course name? Those are chili peppers, and they indicate that on a scale of 1 to 4 (with a one-chili class being mild and a four-chili class being hot), this is a spicy class! The number of chilis indicate the difficulty level and pace of the course -- spicy classes aren't inherently better or more interesting than mild classes, but they move quickly and assume more significant levels of mathematical maturity and background. We encourage students to take a mix of mild and spicy classes.