Harvard Students Place High In Prestigious Math Tourney

Two Harvard students placed among the top ten scorers in a prestigious national collegiate mathematics competition last December, and the Harvard team finished sixth over-all, a professor in the Mathematics Department said yesterday.

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Although a formal announcement of the competition results has not taken place, Andrew M. Gleason, Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, said that Harvard had received the information on its contestants.

Nathaniel S. Kuhn '78 ranked among the top six places, and Stephen W. Modzelewski '79 placed seventh out of more than 21,000 entrants in the 37th Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, Gleason said.

The top five finishers each year win $250, but due to a tie for fifth place, this year will produce six winners, Gleason said.

Kuhn placed 22nd in the contest last year, and Modzelewski, who will win $100, placed 11th last year, he added.

The contest draws its support from a trust fund created by the son of William L. Putnam in 1938, and is now administered by George Putnam, treasurer of the College, William Putnam's grandson.

The test took place for six hours on December 4, and "was very frustrating," Kuhn said yesterday.

"You can think about a problem for two hours and not get anywhere, and then walk out of the exam and see it five minutes later," Kuhn said, ruminating on the vagaries of the mathematical life.

"You are expected to know more than calculus," he added, "but the more math you know, the more it helps."