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WIU Mathematics Student to Be Published in American Mathematical Monthly

August 22, 2023

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MOLINE, IL - A math problem solved by Western Illinois University student Noah Seys will be published in the Mathematical Association of America 2023 publication, "American Mathematical Monthly."

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition exam consists of 12 questions between session A and B. Each year, the Putnam Problems Committee and Competition Leadership group select one solution for every question to be published.

Seys signed up for the 83rd William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, which took place Dec. 3, 2022. Seys' response to Problem B1 stood out of the 3,415 student responses, with only 300 of the students receiving full credit for their solutions.

According to Daniel Ullman, the Putnam competition director, Seys' answer was chosen for publishing due to it being a "beautiful solution" to the problem.

In order to take the exam, Seys reached out to a professor to administer it, and WIU Mathematics Professor Brooks was delighted to help.

"Seys has taken five of my courses, and in that time he has proven himself to be a fantastic student," said Brooks.

The impression Seys left on Brooks led her to offer Seys to be her student learning assistant in the 2023-24 academic year.

"Because of Noah's command of the subject area and his ability to clearly explain his solutions, he was the perfect candidate," said Brooks.

When asked about his preparation for the exam, Seys responded with a passion for math.

"I actually did not set aside any time preparing for the competition because I found myself too busy with school and student organizations," Seys said. "However, doing math problems that require me to think outside the box is something I like to do in my spare time.

Although I've taken several classes with Professor Brooks, the things I learned in her Calculus II course were what really helped me solve Problem B1 on the 2022 Putnam exam. In particular, I made use of the Maclaurin series expansion of e^x, which is an important power series taught in Calculus II courses. The tricky part was carefully manipulating terms in the expansion so that it became clear that the problem boiled down to number theory, and I had done this in a way most people hadn't, which is why the people who graded my solution found it so interesting."

Seys' solution for Problem B1 was selected to be published in the October 2023 issue of American Mathematical Monthly.

For more information on WIU's Mathematics program, visit

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