Duke University Math Union

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Math 281S (Formerly 149S)

The Problem Solving Seminar (Math 281S) is a half credit course offered in the fall. Organized as a seminar, it aims to provide students with methods and techniques to solve challenging contest problems and write rigorous proofs. The course is designed both for incoming freshmen and veteran problem solvers who want to prepare themselves for math contests and for higher level math courses. It meets once a week in the evening, with pizza and refreshments provided. It is a great opportunity to hang out with people, share ideas, and do interesting problems.

For the fall 2013 semester, the class time is TBD.


The Virginia Tech and the William Lowell Putnam Contest (12/2/13) in Mathematics are undergraduate contests organized in the fall. Although solving the problems requires just a basic knowledge of calculus and linear algebra, rigorous proofs are expected and they are usually quite challenging. The contests are open to all undergraduates at Duke, and take place on November 1 and December 6 respectively. If you are interested in taking them, or you want to learn more about them, you can contact us. In recent years, Duke has had a significant success on these contests, with top scorers on the VTech and consistent top 3 performances on the Putnam. Individuals have also scored high, with several Putnam fellows and others scoring among the first 30.

Duke Math Meet is a contest we organize for high school students. This involves composing and grading the problems, making arrangements for refreshments, organizing rooms and giving awards.

The MCM is a 96 hours contest offered in February. Students work on an open-ended, real-life problem in teams of three, and are expected to turn in a paper. It is a contest in applied mathematics on which Duke teams have often placed in the top; several of the Outstanding papers have been published in the math journal UMAP. Diversity in the teams is encouraged, with many engineers and other sciences majors also participating.