America just won the world’s hardest math contest. Again.

By Mahbub Majumdar for The Washington Post

Mahbub Majumdar is the national coach for the Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad and a professor at BRAC University in Bangladesh.

Last month, the United States made an extraordinary achievement: For the third time in four years, it won the International Mathematical Olympiad.

This is staggeringly impressive. The Math Olympiad is the hardest and most prestigious math competition for high school students in the world. University professors often cannot solve more than one or two of the six problems on the exam. Since 1978, Math Olympiad gold medalists have made up more than a third of the winners of the Fields Medal, the Nobel Prize equivalent for mathematics.

Yet from the U.S. team, James Lin from Phillips Exeter Academy received one of two perfect scores at the competition. (The other went to Britain’s Agnijo Banerjee.) Also from the U.S. team, Andrew Gu, Vincent Huang, Michael Ren and Mihir Anand Singhal all won gold medals, and Adam Ardeishar received a silver medal.

The team, led by mathematics professor Po-Shen Loh of Carnegie Mellon University, is about as American as you can get. After all, its members celebrated their victory by going to McDonald’s. But in this time of charged debates about immigration, it is worth noting that many of the team members are second- or third-generation immigrants. Loh, in fact, is the son of immigrant parents from Singapore. The team’s deputy leader, Sasha Rudenko, is a first-generation immigrant from Ukraine.

Read more here.

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