50th International Mathematical Olympiad: Jacobs University houses 600 highly gifted math talents from all over the world

50th International Mathematical Olympiad: Jacobs University houses 600 highly gi
Just before the departure to the Olympic opening gala: The Jacobs campus probably holds the world's highest population density of talented young math minds

 From July 10 to July 22, 2009, Bremen hosts the 50th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), at which about 600 high school students from more than 100 countries set out to solve challenging mathematical problems while competing for gold, silver, and bronze medals. During the competition all the participants as well as escorting adults, additional coordinators, and organizers – in total about 1100 persons involved in making IMO happen – are guests on campus. One of the main coordinators of this year’s jubilee IMO is Dierk Schleicher, Professor of Mathematics at Jacobs University.

July 6, 2009

The International Mathematical Olympia is an annual top level student competition, which has been hosted since 1959 by a different country every year. The participants, not older than 20, compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals by trying to find the correct and most elegant solutions to six mathematical problems presented to them in two four-and-a-half-hour exams.

The international Jury, who chooses the exam problems right before the start of the competition from a pool of suggestions handed in by the participating countries and who grades the exams, is formed by the about 100 leaders of the student delegations. They are supported by about 70 competition coordinators. Head of the Jury is Hans-Dietrich Gronau, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Rostock.

The Jury arrived on July 10, the students on July 13. The official start of the competition was the opening gala on July 14, at which, amongst other notable contributors, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in her youth was a successful IMO participant herself, addressed the guests via video message. The exams are taken on Wednesday and Thursday, the medals will be awarded on Tuesday, July 21.

In their spare time the participants are able to use all the facilities, which Jacobs University holds in store for its students: various sports halls and fields, the cinema, the online café, table tennis and table top soccer as well as a large international game collection. The organized recreational program consists of several excursions exploring Bremen and the region, including visits to Hamburg and the Emsland Transrapid test facilities. Olympiad highlights, besides the actual competition activities, are the 50th anniversary celebration in Bremen’s Musical Theatre and the day trip of all 1100 IMO participants and organizers to Wangeroge Island, which is part of the recently recognized world natural heritage „Wadden Sea“ and which will be closed off for any other visitors during the day.

IMO 2009 is organized by Bildung und Begabung e.V. ("Education and Talent"), an association based in Bonn, in cooperation with Jacobs University. The main part of IMO’s funding with a budget of in total 1.5 million euros is provided by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Other contributors are the City State of Bremen, the Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Science and Humanities in Germany and the two main sponsors, Arcelor Mittal and BTC.

The International Mathematical Olympiad

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in a different country. The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania, with 7 countries participating. It has gradually expanded to over 90 countries from 5 continents. The IMO Advisory Board ensures that the competition takes place each year and that each host country observes the regulations and traditions of the IMO.