For the fifth time in six years, a team of three Duke students placed third place in the William Lowell Putnam mathematical competition, considered to be one of the top collegiate math competitions in the country. In 2000 the Duke team came in first.
MIT won this year's competition for the second year in a row. Princeton, coached by Duke alumna Melanie Wood, finished second.
On Dec. 4, 2004, a record 3733 participants from 515 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada spent six hours working on 12 challenging math problems. Less than half of the participants were credited with even one point out of 120.
For completing 7 of the 12 problems, sophomore Nikifor Bliznashki ranked 17th. Senior Oaz Nir and freshman Lingren Zhang were named honorable mention for finishing among the top one percent. Freshmen Kshipra Bhawalkar and Tirasan Khandhawit were among the top 100 and sophomores Brandon Levin and James Zou ranked among the next 100. Morgan Brown '07, Abhijit Mehta '06 and Jason Shapiro '06 were also cited for strong showing. Of the 22 Duke students who took the competition, 17 ranked among the top third.
The Math department will receive $15,000 for this third place finish. A Duke team has finished first, second or third 10 times since 1990 and has finished among the top 10 for all but two of those years.
In a February competition, a team of three Duke students won an Outstanding rating in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM). This year, a paper by a Duke team was one of only 10 to receive the highest rating. The team, Adam Chandler, Pradeep Baliga, and Matthew Mian, worked to construct mathematical models of traffic flow on a toll road, and to determine the optimal number of lanes for a toll plaza.
Four other teams from Duke competed in the contest.