Problem of the Month

courtesy of our Problem Tsar: Dr. Michael Jablonski:

Send your submissions in for bragging rights!



A Passel of Putnam Problem People!

This year as every year Drs. Albert and Ozaydin are organizing the OU Putnam Problem Solving Group. It will meet on

Mondays at 5 pm in PHSC 1025 from now until the Putnam Exam.

The Putnam Exam is a famous exam which is held on the first Saturday in December around the country (and, indeed!, around the world).  You can win great prizes (like a scholarship to Harvard!).  And we’ll bet that if you get the top score on the Putnam Exam, the OU Math Department will give you full scholarship to OU!

It was founded in 1927 by Elizabeth Lowell Putnam in honor of her husband William Lowell Putnam.

William Lowell Putnam and professional Teddy Rosevelt impersonator

William Lowell Putnam and professional Teddy Roosevelt impersonator.

We should mention that the exam has 12 questions, each graded out of 10 points, for a total of 120 points.  If you score any points at all, it puts you in the top half of the exam takers! So probably you shouldn’t depend on your Putnam prize money for next year’s tuition :-).


Whether or not you want to take the exam itself, stop by the OU Putnam Problem solving group to have fun and work on interesting problems like this one:

Players 1, 2, 3, …, n are seated around a table and each has a single penny. Player 1 passes a penny to Player 2, who then passes two pennies to Player 3. Player 3 then passes one penny to Player 4, who passes two pennies to Player 5, and so on, players alternately passing one penny or two to the next player who still has some pennies. A player who runs out of pennies drops out of the game and leaves the table. Find an infinite set of numbers n for which some player ends up with all n pennies.

— From the Putnam Exam webpage

Game On!

Bouncing Off the Walls

Like us at Math Blog HQ, the Problem of the Month’s Big Kahuna is back from a restful summer (the BK was no doubt lounging on the beaches of the Outer Banks).

If you’re looking for something to ponder while you wait for your first homework assignments, you can do no better than the Problem of the Month.  The Big Kahuna has dropped a fantastic first problem on us:


Go here for the full sized version.

Winner of the March PoTM

Better late than never, we wanted to tell you that the winner of the March Problem of the Month was Laurence White.  Congratulate him when you see him!

Don’t tell Laurence or Dr. White, but people named White are always trouble :-):

Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 2.07.12 PM (2)


Maybe things would have gone better if Joe was a mathematician and/or listened to Mr. White:

Joe: He was the only one I wasn’t 100% on. I should have my f****** head examined, going on a plan like this when I wasn’t 100%.
Mr. White: [shouting] That’s your proof?
Joe: You don’t need proof when you have instinct.

Problem of the Month: Examples Needed

The Grand Poobah of the Problem of the Month has unleashed a new Problem.  You can read the problem (and the rules) at the Problem of the Month webpage. It’s all about finding a certain bounded function.

Bounded Function

If you can’t get enough of math pun comics, you’ve got to check out this webpage!


Don’t tell him, but we think the Grand Poobah of the PotM has bounded rationality.

Evolving Triangles!

You’ve probably already seen it on the second floor of PHSC next to the elevators, but we thought we should mention that the February POM is also posted online


Evolved Triangles from

Also, a big shoutout to the winner of the Dec-Jan POM.    Adam LaDine was randomly selected out of the correct entries.  Congratulations Adam!