The 60th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) welcomed 621 competitors from 112 countries aged 14-18 years.
The IMO is the largest and most prestigious of all of the international olympiads, bringing together the brightest young minds from around the world representing the culmination of many years of mathematical endeavour and hundreds of attempts at solving incredibly complex problems.
This year was the third time the event was held in the UK, having played host to the competition on only two previous occasions (in 1979 and 2002).
The IMO was the subject of the 2014 British film, X+Y, which featured a cameo appearance from President of the IMO and Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath, Dr Geoff Smith MBE.
The competition involved teams of up to six contestants (aged between 14-18 years old) sitting two exams on consecutive days. Each exam lasted 4.5 hours and contained three tough problems. Many of the competitors would only attempt to answer one.
Contestants’ scripts were marked over the next few days with each solution (or attempt) being awarded a score out of seven. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded to just less than half of the contestants in the ratio 1:2:3. Those not within the medal boundaries, but achieving full marks on at least one problem, were awarded an Honourable Mention.
Contestants were accommodated on campus for the week and also got the chance to explore the local area, including a sightseeing trip to Stonehenge.
Teams from China and the USA took joint first place overall; the UK team ranked 20th, achieving one gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
The medals were presented at a closing ceremony in a huge marquee at the back of the University’s Sports Training Village, where the students could enjoy a fun fair including dodgems and a ferris wheel.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian White, attended the closing ceremony on the 21 July, along with the Vietnamese Ambassador and an official from the Russian Ministry of Education.
The Executive Director of IMO 2019, Dr Ceri Fiddes, obtained her Maths PhD at the University of Bath, and Professor James Davenport oversaw the IT for the event.
Dr Geoff Smith, President of the International Mathematical Olympiad and Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath, said: “We were honoured to be hosting the Olympiad this year, celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of the event in the home city of the famous mathematician Adelard.
“This festival of problem solving received substantial funding from the global financial services sector which has come to rely on exceptional mathematical talent.
“I’d like to thank all the organisers who have spent the last four years planning this event, and to all the hosts of volunteers, many of them previous competitors at IMO, who have welcomed and supported the contestants and made the event a real success.”
Professor Chris Budd OBE, Professor of Applied Mathematics at Bath, is Chair of the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT), the UK parent organisation of the IMO and the lead funder for it.
The Trust organises individual and team maths challenges, mentoring schemes and summer schools for more than 800,000 11-18 year olds in the UK each year. It is from these challenges that the UK team is selected and intensively trained.
He said: “I was overwhelmed not only with the ability of the contestants, but also with their enthusiasm and love of maths.
“The world of the present and future is one in which maths will become more and more important. It is wonderful to know that this future is in such good hands.”