Advisor Information

Dr. Griff Elder

Presentation Type

Exhibit

Abstract

The University of Omaha math department's Problem of the Week was taken over in Fall 2019 from faculty by the authors. The structure: each semester (Fall and Spring), three problems are given per week for twelve weeks, with each problem worth ten points - mimicking the structure of arguably the most well-regarded university math competition around, the Putnam Competition, with prizes awarded to top-scorers at semester's end. The weekly competition was halted midway through Spring 2020 due to COVID-19, but relaunched again in Fall 2021, with massive changes.

Now there are three difficulty tiers to POW problems, roughly corresponding to easy/medium/hard difficulties, with each tier getting twelve problems per semester, and three problems (one of each tier) per week posted online and around campus. The tiers are named after the EPH classification of conic sections (which is connected to many other classifications in math), and in the present compilation they abide by the following color-coding: Cyan, Green, and Magenta.

In practice, when creating the problem sets, we begin with a large enough pool of problem drafts and separate out the ones which are most obviously elliptic or hyperbolic, and then the remaining ones fall into parabolic. The tiers don't necessarily reflect workload, though, only prerequisite mathematical background. Ideally, the solutions to elliptic problems, and any parts of solutions to parabolic and hyperbolic problems not covered in standard undergraduate courses, are meant to test participants' creativity. Beware, though, many solutions also include additional commentary which varies wildly in the reader's assumed mathematical maturity.

Comments

For physical copies of the UNOmaha Problem of the Week (2021-2022 Edition) book, the authors have independently published here: https://www.amazon.com/UNOmaha-Problem-Week-2021-2022-Horner/dp/B09ZCL5M6C

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

COinS
 

UNOmaha Problem of the Week (2021-2022 Edition)

The University of Omaha math department's Problem of the Week was taken over in Fall 2019 from faculty by the authors. The structure: each semester (Fall and Spring), three problems are given per week for twelve weeks, with each problem worth ten points - mimicking the structure of arguably the most well-regarded university math competition around, the Putnam Competition, with prizes awarded to top-scorers at semester's end. The weekly competition was halted midway through Spring 2020 due to COVID-19, but relaunched again in Fall 2021, with massive changes.

Now there are three difficulty tiers to POW problems, roughly corresponding to easy/medium/hard difficulties, with each tier getting twelve problems per semester, and three problems (one of each tier) per week posted online and around campus. The tiers are named after the EPH classification of conic sections (which is connected to many other classifications in math), and in the present compilation they abide by the following color-coding: Cyan, Green, and Magenta.

In practice, when creating the problem sets, we begin with a large enough pool of problem drafts and separate out the ones which are most obviously elliptic or hyperbolic, and then the remaining ones fall into parabolic. The tiers don't necessarily reflect workload, though, only prerequisite mathematical background. Ideally, the solutions to elliptic problems, and any parts of solutions to parabolic and hyperbolic problems not covered in standard undergraduate courses, are meant to test participants' creativity. Beware, though, many solutions also include additional commentary which varies wildly in the reader's assumed mathematical maturity.