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Poland at International Mathematical Olympiad


boletus 30 | 1,366
3 Aug 2012  #1
On July 8-16, 2012 the 53rd International Mathematical Olympiad was held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. It was attended by 548 students from 100 countries. The Polish national team won two silver and four bronze individual medals and took the 4th team place among European countries and the 18th place overall.

Below is an incomplete list of the team scores organized according to (position, score, country name). First I have listed the top 18 worldwide countries, then the European countries with the score lesser than the Poland's one. But you can check other scores here: at imo-official.org/countries.aspx - International Mathematical Olympiad or at imomath.com/index.php?mod=20. Notice the very good Canadian score this year.

The maximum possible team score is: 6 participants * 6 problems * 7 points each = 252 points

(1 209 South Korea)
(2 195 China)
(3 194 USA)
(4 177 Russia)
(5 159 Canada)
(5 159 Thailand)
(7 154 Singapore)
(8 151 Iran)
(10 144 Roumania)
(11 136 India)
(12 128 North Korea)
(12 128 Turkey)
(14 127 Taiwan)
(15 126 Serbia)
(16 125 Peru)
(17 121 Japan)
(18 119 Poland) => only European countries from here
(19 116 Ukraine)
(19 116 Bulgaria)
(22 115 Netherlands)
(22 115 UK)
(24 114 Belarus)
(25 110 Croatia)
(26 107 Greece)
(30 104 Moldova)
(31 102 Germany)
(37 96 Portugal)
(38 93 Belgium)
(38 93 France)
(38 93 Hungary)
(38 93 Italy)
(44 85 Slovakia)
(45 84 Bosnia and Herzegovina)
(47 80 Armenia)
(47 80 Czech Republic)
(50 79 Austria)
(52 76 Switzerland)
(56 71 Slovenia)
(58 69 Lithuania)
(59 68 Georgia)
(60 64 Spain)
(61 60 Denmark)
(63 59 FYROM)
(65 57 Finland)
(66 55 Latvia)
(68 50 Estonia)
(71 47 Sweden)
(76 39 Cyprus)
(77 36 Luxembourg)
(78 34 Ireland)
(79 33 Norway)
(88 24 Albania)
(89 21 Iceland)
(94 9 Kosovo)
(97 5 Liechtenstein)
pawian 159 | 9,515
3 Aug 2012  #2
Bol, does it mean Polish educational system is not so bad after all?

Or Poles are one of the brightest guys? :):):):)
rybnik 18 | 1,462
3 Aug 2012  #3
one could argue both (at least when it comes to Math).
Wulkan - | 3,251
3 Aug 2012  #4
Bol, does it mean Polish educational system is not so bad

You understand the things wrong way round, the Polish education system is bad BECAUSE it teaches you how to complete extremely complicated mathematical tasks witch is quite useless ability rather then how to survive in life when you finish your school, and that's quite well known fact.

after all?

after what
jon357 63 | 14,122
3 Aug 2012  #5
A friend of mine has been involved in that for years. Very specific young people who take part - I would use the term autistic.
OP boletus 30 | 1,366
3 Aug 2012  #6
Bol, does it mean Polish educational system is not so bad after all?

Well, poor results of some other teams might be caused by the fact that they were under-represented by fewer students than six. For example, Liechtenstein sent only two students. As I mentioned in the introduction, 548 students represented 100 countries. The fair number should be 600.

Next, we cannot project these results on the entire educational system. The PISA (OECD) results from the year 2011 better reflect on the average achievements of average students. See: oecd.org/edu/eag2011 and oecd.org/dataoecd/34/60/46619703.pdf.

With respect to mathematics, Poland is placed at the 25th postion worldwide, with the score 495, slightly below PISA average 496 - out of maximum 600. [In reading overall Poland is 16th (500 points, PISA average 493) and in science - 19th (508, PISA average 501)]. USA, one of the top scorers in International Mathematical Olympics and the home of the best world universities, is ranked only at 31st postion (487 points), behind Poland 25th, in PISA mathematics score.

On the other hand, many European countries are better placed than Poland in mathematics:
6 541 Finland
7 536 Liechtenstein
8 534 Switzerland
11 526 Netherlands
14 515 Belgium
16 513 Germany
17 512 Estonia
18 507 Iceland
19 503 Denmark
20 501 Slovenia
21 498 Norway
22 497 France
23 497 Slovak Republic
24 496 Austria
25 495 Poland

It still leaves a bunch of European countries (17 to be exact) with lower scores and that includes (28 492 UK), (32 487 Ireland), (38 468 Russia - another top scorer in IMO), and (48 427 Romania).

See: ourtimes.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/oecd-education-rankings/

one could argue both (at least when it comes to Math).

In addition to the above, you may want to check this (last month) BBC article entitled Poland scores late goals in education
bbc.co.uk/news/business-18151512

You understand the things wrong way round, the Polish education system is bad BECAUSE it teaches you how to complete extremely complicated mathematical tasks witch is quite useless ability rather then how to survive in life when you finish your school, and that's quite well known fact.

With all due respect, mathematics is not to teach you how to survive in life. For this you may blame the school system, but not the mathematics, the queen of all sciences.

Let me remind you that significant portion of mathematics fields is all about abstraction, not about the real world. You do not build howitzers with abstract mathematics but without good knowledge of applied mathematics you could not even start dreaming of building the beast. I do not mind listening to the discussions whether or not Polish mathematics is too much abstract and too little application oriented. Some Polish and international mathematicians agree with it, some disagree. But I do not give a damn listening to pathetic statements, which I sometimes hear, that mathematics is useless in real life. I currently make my living as a computer scientist (CS), and the only way I survive in this extremely competitive world is the fact that I know something about mathematics, while many CS graduates do not. And for this reason they are confined to building websites, or something equally boring.

A friend of mine has been involved in that for years. Very specific young people who take part - I would use the term autistic.

Autism, math, music and memory appear to be linked. John Nash suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Kurt Gödel starved himself to death out of fear of being poisoned. There are speculations that Einstein, Mozart, and Galileo had autism or other such conditions.

Mathematicians often live in their own world because this is what modern mathematics is all about: one builds a theory based on a system of their axioms and all one has to do is to prove that the axioms are not contradictory. One does not care if there is any relation between one's theory and the real world. If the theory becomes uncovered by some application scientists and applied to other disciplines then kudos to the inventor and their theory.

Sometimes the task becomes too challenging. One of my early friends, who was able to participate in our trekking activities and took great pleasure in it, suffered by obsessive attachement to his mathematical theory, which eluded him. He was hospitalized few times and ended badly. We could not help him, even though some of his friends were internationally renown young mathematicians.

Another one, a physicist, lost five years of his life, obsessively trying to find a solution to a problem unresolved by the greatest minds of the world. In meantime, his twin brother was pursuing normal scientific development. They are both tenure professors of many years now.

I have a great respect to those mathematical geniuses (autistics?), such as Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan, a self taught mathematician:
I have had no university education but I have undergone the ordinary school course. After leaving school I have been employing the spare time at my disposal to work at mathematics. I have not trodden through the conventional regular course which is followed in a university course, but I am striking out a new path for myself. I have made a special investigation of divergent series in general and the results I get are termed by the local mathematicians as 'startling'.

www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Ramanujan.html
jon357 63 | 14,122
3 Aug 2012  #7
Autism, math, music and memory appear to be linked. John Nash suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Kurt Gödel starved himself to death out of fear of being poisoned. There are speculations that Einstein, Mozart, and Galileo had autism or other such conditions.

Yes. Occasionally I've needed to spend time in the Mathematics section at the Polish Academy of Science (very interesting old pictures of past members) and have noticed some very unusual behaviour. Absolute geniuses, but very very strange.
teflcat 5 | 1,032
3 Aug 2012  #8
Absolute geniuses, but very very strange

When I was a student I had a job cleaning the bogs and offices at the Cambridge University astrophysics department. These guys were absolutely the top in their fields, but many of them couldn't make eye contact and practically hid behind their coats rather than answer my Good morning.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
3 Aug 2012  #9
but many of them couldn't make eye contact and practically hid behind their coats rather than answer my Good morning.

they were probably deep in thought :)
pawian 159 | 9,515
3 Aug 2012  #10
Surely, maths helps in acquiring a foreign language, at least English. It is strange but I have observed, together with other English teachers in our school, that math-physics classes perform better at final exams than arts and humanities ones. Somehow, an ability to think in abstract terms contributes to it.

These guys were absolutely the top in their fields, but many of them couldn't make eye contact and practically hid behind their coats rather than answer my Good morning.

Geniuses have it like this. Our genial Math teacher from high school was like that. His knowledge was extremely vast but once he disappeared from school for a few months and later we learnt he had to spend time in mental hospital because life and dealing with people in everyday matters was so stressful for him.
bullfrog 6 | 603
3 Aug 2012  #11
the mathematics, the queen of all sciences

I agree. Taking the point even further, certain fields of mathematics, like topology, can even be viewed as art
teflcat 5 | 1,032
3 Aug 2012  #12
genial

False cognate! Genial means kind and pleasant, warm-hearted, etc.
OP boletus 30 | 1,366
3 Aug 2012  #13
I bet he meant just that and played a joke on us.


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