SJSU Problem Solvers

Challenge Announcements:

The SJSU Problem Solvers program offers problem solving challenges, prizes, and training for interested undergraduate students and graduate students, continuing the tradition of the Problem of the Week. The organizers are Dr. Daniel Brinkman and Dr. Yan X Zhang.

  • Throughout both semesters, we will post problems on the 3rd floor, and interested students can solve them at their leisure and submit solutions to us. You can submit solutions to the math office (when open) or via email to (scans of handwritten solutions are welcome!).
  • In the Fall semesters, we will have training sessions for the Putnam Exam (a nationwide problem solving competition), which are good opportunities to practice whether you take the competition or not. 3 students will be chosen to represent SJSU as a team.

The Putnam Exam

The competition is meant to measure problem solving skills and not mathematical knowledge. It looks for clever problem solvers who may not have taken that many math classes but can solve problems ingeniously. It is similar in spirit to tech interview brainteasers.

  • the problems are meant to be accessible to anyone with a few undergraduate math classes
  • the most knowledge required is 1 semester each of abstract algebra and analysis. 90% of the problems are doable with just "high school math" such as geometry, (simple, no fancy combinatorics theorems) counting, high school algebra, and calculus.