University News

Seys Scores High on Putnam Competition

February 27, 2024

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MOLINE, IL - The 2023 Putnam Competition results are in and Western Illinois University Mathematics major Noah Seys scored higher than last year, earning 11 points from his 10 points last year.

He earned nearly full marks on problem A1, namely nine points and earned two points on problem A2.

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition exam consists of 12 questions between sessions A and B. Each year, the Putnam Problems Committee and Competition Leadership group select one solution for every question to be published. Last year, Noah's solution from problem B1 was published in the October 2023 issue of "American Mathematical Monthly."

Seys signed up for the 84th William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition after competing in it in 2022.

"Noah is an incredibly determined student," WIU Mathematics Associate Professor Susie Brooks said. "What makes him stand out from his peers and helps him successfully solve difficult mathematical problems is the fact that he's able to think ‘outside the box' and utilize mathematical results in creative ways. I'm super proud of his performance on the Putnam exam both this year and last year."

When asked how his experience was compared to last year, his response was to fix his approach.

"Sure, there was a little more pressure this year since I had a personal record to beat, but I also walked into the exam room with a little more confidence than last year because I knew the logistics and what the exam graders were expecting," Seys said. "Additionally, I had a little more preparation, so I had a good feeling that I would score above zero again. What I liked about this year is that I attempted more problems. Last year, I only attempted two, but this year I attempted four, one full solution and three partial solutions. I managed to solve Problem A1 within the first hour, which felt good. My partial solution to Problem B1 had the correct answer, but the proof was severely lacking, so I ended up getting no points for that one. Despite that, though, simply getting the correct answer still made me happy. My partial solution to Problem A2 demonstrated that I was going in the right direction toward a full solution, so I got some credit for that. Finally, for Problem B2, I made some extremely basic insights that were not worthy of any points, but I'm happy that I tried it. Overall, I was hoping to score a bit higher this year, but I'm still content with the improvements I've seen in my performance."

For more information on WIU's Mathematics program, visit

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