Summing up the HMMT Mathematics Competition

The Harvard-MIT Mathematics Competition (HMMT) is a student-organized, bi-annual competition for high-school mathematicians. The competitions take place in November and February, with the more challenging material presented in February. The more difficult contest caters to students who are more experienced in problem-solving. This year, the competition will be held on Saturday, February 16, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The contest will present questions ranging from the medium difficulty level of the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) questions to more advanced Olympiad-level questions. A fifty-minute individual written exam features geometry, algebra, and counting questions. In addition, six to eight students work together for sixty minutes to complete proofs. Finally, the guts round, an eighty-minute round with thirty-six problems in sets of three, puts smaller teams against each other. Mr. Justin Almeida, instructor in mathematics, said  “[It is] vitally important to pursue mathematics outside of the classroom. Otherwise, one might be misled into thinking that the narrow scope and course covered by high school mathematics (too often almost all the math that people see during their entire lives) could circumscribe the beauty, nuance, and true challenge that can be found in the discipline.”

Students from Hotchkiss have participated in HMMT for over a decade. This year’s team was selected by Dr. Marta Eso, instructor in mathematics, and Mr. Almeida. The entire Math Team, which meets each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, prepares for the competition by practicing problems from past years’ competitions and making plans for how to approach specific problems. Mr. Almeida feels that “the pride you feel when you get a truly difficult problem right – the joy at seeing something actually work – simply can’t be matched.”