IMO 2014 – South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

A very successful IMO was held in Cape Town, South Africa, from July 3 – 13. This was the first IMO held on the African continent and a highlight was a number of African countries making their first venture into the competition. In all, there were 101 countries competing as well as 3 observer countries.

A highlight of the event was a series of lectures by world-renowned mathematicians, held after students had completed their two days of examinations. Former IMO gold medalist Gunther Ziegler presented an innocuous looking partition problem that has turned out to be a far-reaching problem involving a number of areas of mathematics including transportation network theory and number theory. Cambridge-based mathematician and astrophysicist John Barrow provided an overview of the mathematical theories governing astrophysics and the history of our universe. Finally Peter Sarnak, a South African mathematician now working at Princeton, presented a problem on Apollonius circle packing, which involved an exploration of quadratic forms and other number-theoretic techniques.

As usual, the closing ceremony was most entertaining, with the hosts featuring many traditional African elements and medals being awarded to the most successful students. This year, just three students obtained a perfect score, Alex Gunning from Australia, Jiyang Guo from the People’s Republic of China and Po-Sheng Wu from Taiwan. Alex and Po-Sheng were also Gold medalists last year.

Our congratulations to the host country South Africa, for a wonderful Olympiad and, in particular, to event Director John Webb. We now look forward to Thailand in 2015.

Advisory Board Elections

Advisory Board Elections were held in Cape Town. After his four-year term, Nazar Agakhanov, of the Russian Federation, stepped down as president and Geoff Smith, of the UK, was elected. Nazar continues as an elected member of the advisory Board. Yongjin Song, of the Republic of Korea, was also elected to the Advisory Board, replacing his compatriot Myung-Hwan Kim.