A team of Hope College students has finished in the top third nationally in the 2010 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a contest so challenging that the median score this year was two points out of a possible 120.

Four Hope students competed in the event:  junior Nathan Graber of Washington, D.C., junior XiSen Hou of Qingdao, China, freshman Joshua Kammeraad of Bethel Park, Pa., and junior Bobby Nash of Niles.  They finished 121st out of teams of undergraduates representing 442 colleges and universities from the United States and Canada.  Individually, each of the four students scored between 10 and 20 points on the exam, all ranking within the top 1,670 out of the 4,296 individual participants from 546 institutions.

"Putnam is an extremely difficult and prestigious competition," said Dr. Aaron Cinzori, associate professor of mathematics and chairperson of the department.  "For our students to finish 121st among the best mathematical students in two countries, and to score 10 to 20 individually when the median was two, is a remarkable achievement and we're proud of their performance."

The annual William Lowell Putnam exam is a two-part, six-hour exam administered on the first Saturday in December, with the students who compete taking the exam on their own campuses.  The exam consists of 12 problems, each worth up to 10 points, that cut across many areas of mathematics and are designed to test originality as well as technical competence.  The competition began in 1938 and is administered by the Mathematical Association of America.