Sharpening Hungary’s strong math talents

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 12:22 AM


As a 15 year old, I entered a math contest run by the math journal KöMaL. One problem kept me working through the night, even prompting me to dream about it. Unfortunately, I dreamed up the wrong solution. But the challenge excited me so much that I kept on studying math. Now, I work on search quality for Google, optimizing the functions and algorithms that make our search results as fresh as possible.

My own experience makes me happy to announce that Google is supporting this year’s KöMaL contest. Over the next nine months, students will be tested to solve tough mathematical problems. Winners of the different age categories and difficulty levels will be crowned towards September 2013.

For more than a century, KöMaL has been exciting Hungary’s aspiring mathematicians. A high school teacher called Dániel Arany, founded the mathematical journal, aiming aimed to educate high school students by challenging them to solve a series of complex mathematical problems. Almost all most eminent Hungarian mathematicians and physicists were participants in the competition as youngsters, including Pál Erdős, Pál Turán, László Lovász, János Pintz, Imre Bárány, and Vilmos Totik.

I’m looking forward to seeing whose name might be up there next and will report back next year to announce the winner! In the meantime, why not have a go at October’s problem:

Prove that the sum of the squares of seven consecutive integers cannot be a perfect square.*

Find the solution to this and other month’s mathematical problems here.