The rivalry spirit between BYU and the U of U is not only in football but also in any competition that has students from the two schools. Last month, during the Intermountain Mathematics Competition, BYU students’ score was double the U of U’s students.
The Intermountain Mathematics Competition is an annual competition held by BYU. As a press release on the mathematics department website states, any students can enter the competition to defend the honor of BYU against Utah, and top competitors can win prizes and free shirts.
Professor Pace Nielsen, assistant professor in the mathematics department, said BYU collaborated with other institutions in the West area, such as University of Utah, Utah State University and UNLV, to host this annual competition.
“This year, BYU team’s score was 159,” Nielsen said. “And Utah team’s score was 70.”
The maximum point for each team is 210, he said. The competition is a three-hour test. In that three hours, each competitor has seven problems to solve and each problem is worth 10 points.
“The average score was 13,” Nielsen said. “Anything that was above 13 is very good.”
Hiram Golze, a junior majoring in mathematics, was one of the three winners this year. Golze said he has participated in this competition since he was a senior in Skyline High School.
“During the past couple of years, I’ve been a lot more confident,” Golze said. “And I’ve definitely improved a lot since my senior year in high school.”
He said the challenge for him as a competitor in this contest was making the decision of when to stop working on a particular problem.
Samuel Dittmer, a sophomore majoring in mathematics, was another winner from the BYU team. Dittmer said he knew about this contest from his brother when he was in high school.
“It’s a hard test,” Dittmer said. “And I think about half the kids who take the test get zero.”
The BYU team is special because team members have worked really hard, Nielsen said. They also take an extra one-hour credit class to work on their problem-solving skills. Nielsen said the team also has previous experience in this competition, which came in handy. This year BYU team had a better score than last year.
“The questions in the test are all kinds of problem-solving questions,” he said. “Some are geometry problems, some are basic logic problems and some are calculus problems.”
Neilsen said all involved institutions help compose the problems that the competitors must solve during the test time.
Even thought the problems in the competition are related to mathematics, any students on campus can participate in this competition, not just mathematics students. For students to enter this contest, they do not need to know about higher mathematics knowledge. They just need to spend a lot of time practicing their problem-solving skills.
“On some problems, it’s nice to know some trick and there are a lot of tricks available,” Neilsen said. “On other problems, it’s just a matter of being clever. So if you are smarter than other people, you can get the problem faster.”
Dittmer said he liked going out with a bang.
“After I graduate from college, there are not big math competitions anymore,” Dittmer said. “So I feel like this is the last chance for me to have some fun with the competition.”