K Math Competitors Return to Campus as Prime Primes

Six math students pose with a trophy

The first- and fifth-place finishers at LMMC 2013!

Two Kalamazoo College math teams came out as “prime primes” at the annual Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition, held this year at Aquinas College. “Prime primes” as in first place and fifth place finishers among this year’s field of 20 participating teams.

The first place team included Tibin John ’15, Fayang Pan ’15, and Umang Varma ’14. K’s fifth place finishers were Matt Mills ’13, Philip Mulder ’15, and Sajan Silwal ’14.

It was Kalamazoo College’s third consecutive first-place finish in the LMMC, and that’s no mean feat according to Professor of Mathematics John Fink. “The teams sign in and are given their packet,” explained Fink. “At 9:30 each team is shown to its workroom, and for the next three hours, members work together to produce as many solutions as they can to the ten problems they are given. At 12:30 sharp they turn in their solutions. In the afternoon, teams make public presentations of their solutions.”

Winners take home what’s called the Klein Kup Trophy. LMMC was first held in 1979 at Kalamazoo College (the site rotates from year to year). K won the first year, and once again about a decade later, and then experienced a Klein Kup drought until its recent three-peat. For many years, participating schools were the liberal arts colleges in the Lower Peninsula, but then other schools got wind of the competition. UM-Flint, UM-Dearborn, Ferris State, and Lawrence Tech, among others, began sending teams. “For most of its history the Klein Kup has traveled back and forth between Hope and Calvin,” said Fink. “But with our recent results the Baptists seem to have finally broken the predestinarian grip that Hope and Calvin held for so many years!”

Pictured are the “prime primes” with this year’s Klein Kup (l-r): front row–Philip Mulder, Matt Mills, Tibin John; back row–Fayang Pan, Sajan Silwal, and Umang Varma.