28ca54d5 49cc 4b19 9024 9dada79e893b
HBD Watch: Putnam Math Competition Results—All Male, Almost All Asian
Thumb derb
March 15, 2018, 07:36 AM
Print Friendly and PDF
Nigh-on a year ago I reported some results from the 2016 Putnam math competition (see the Math Corner at the end of my April 2017 Diary).

The competition advertises itself thus:

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is the preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students in the United States and Canada. The Putnam Competition takes place annually on the first Saturday of December. The competition consists of two 3-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During each session, participants work individually on 6 challenging mathematical problems.
Well, the results of the 2017 Putnam, held last December 2nd, are now out. There's a PDF here.

Here are the top scorers. Where I haven't identified the university, it's MIT.  It mostly is MIT: seventeen out of twenty-five.

The six highest ranking individuals, winning $2,500 each, are (alphabetic order): Omer Cerrahoğlu, Jiyang Gao, Junyao Peng, Ashwin Sah, David Stoner (Harvard), and Yunkun Zhou.

The next nine, winning $1,000 each, are: Andrew He, Brice Huang, Ravi Jagadeesen (Harvard), Dong Ryul Kim (Harvard), Allen Liu, Zhuo Qun Song (Princeton), Xiaoyu Xu (Princeton), Yuan Yao, and Hung-Hsun Yu.

In the third rank, winning $250 each, are: Michael Chow (U. Toronto), Junhao Fan (Berkeley), Calvin Lee, Yang Liu, Sammy Luo, Ling Jie Mei, Sung Gi Park, Kevin Sun, Ben Wei (U. Waterloo), Jianqiao Xia.

Given the staggering lack of diversity there, it's a small miracle that the Handicapper General hasn't yet come down hard on the Putnam competition.

It's not just race, either. So far as I can discover, every name there belongs to a male.

I had faint hopes that Ling Jie Mei might be female. If, in error, Putnam had written the name Chinese style with surname first, the given name Jing Mei sounds vaguely feminine (one of the twenty-odd Chinese characters pronounced "mei" means "pretty," and "Mei" is not a common family name). Nope: Ling Jie Mei is a guy, surname Mei. Similarly with Sung Gi Park.

The male supremacy here in the far right tail of the math-talent distribution is really scandalous.

When oh when will someone do something about this?  Fix the schools!

(Should you want to try the 2017 Putnam problems for yourself, they are here.)