The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. Problems and solutions: 1938–1964. (English) Zbl 0444.00006

Washington, D. C.: The Mathematical Association of America. xi, 652 p. $ 35.00 (1980).
The basic idea underlying the Putnam competition was expressed by William Lowell Putnam in the Harvard Graduates’ Magazine of December 1921. It was first organized in 1938, and has had since an important impact on mathematics in the USA and Canada. The first twenty-five competitions involved a total of three hundred forty-seven problems, which are collected in Part I of the book, each problem being reprinted in Part II together with its solution. Reference and historical backgrounds for some of the problems are also included. The book ends with four extracts of the American Mathematical Monthly, by G. Birkhoff, L. E. Bush, L. J. Mordell and L. M. Kelly, which trace the history of this competition. In particular, it is interesting to consult, in Bush paper, the list of the five highest ranking individuals in each of the first twenty-five competitions, and to recognize there the names of a great number of the to-day leading American mathematicians.
Needless to say that this volume provides a highly interesting collection of problems of all types, which require in general ingenuity, and deal with all parts of elementary (and less elementary some-times) mathematics. An extensive index ends the book whose material presentation is excellent.


00A07 Problem books
00-01 Introductory exposition (textbooks, tutorial papers, etc.) pertaining to mathematics in general
97U40 Problem books, competitions, examinations (aspects of mathematics education)