There is interesting data to show that MIT takes math students more seriously than Harvard and Princeton. By Michael Sipser’s suggestion I looked at the Putnam Competition results. Out of the top 74 scorers of 2007, 21 were from MIT, 9 from Harvard and 7 from Princeton. Keep in mind that the total freshman enrollment at MIT is much lower than at Harvard or Princeton. This story repeated itself in 2008: out of top 79 scorers 23 were from MIT, 11 from Harvard and 11 from Princeton.
Ironically, MIT’s team didn’t win Putnam in those years. MIT’s team won the third place after Harvard and Princeton. If you look at the results more closely, you will notice that had MIT arranged teams differently, MIT would have won.
It appears that MIT put their three top scorers from the previous year on their lead team. MIT shouldn’t assume that those three continue to be their strongest competitors. Instead they should probably test their students right before the Putnam competition, because if you look at MIT’s top individual performers, had they been on a team together, they would have won.
Maybe MIT should rethink its algorithm for creating teams, or maybe we should just wait. As it is obvious that MIT is more serious about math, all top math students may want to go to MIT in coming years. If this happens, the mathematics field will be absolutely dominated by MIT.Share: