Stanford Math Tournament for high schoolers returns to campus

Feb. 13, 2018, 1:17 a.m.

After a four-year hiatus, the Stanford Undergraduate Mathematical Organization (SUMO) has brought back the Stanford Math Tournament (SMT), its annual math tournament for high school students. The tournament will be held this Saturday.

Katy Woo ’20, vice president of SUMO and problem-writing coordinator for SMT, explained that the focus of SMT 2018 is to ensure its future sustainability.

“For this particular SMT, I think that it’s important to develop a framework so that we can continue to host SMT in future years,” said Woo.

The size of SMT 2018 has been reduced in scale compared to past tournaments. The event’s organizers capped the tournament at 250 students and only accepted registrations from high schools in the Bay Area. The competition will still consist of a team round and an individual round, covering topics such as algebra, calculus and discrete math.

SMT was first organized in 1999 in conjunction with the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament (HMMT) and was held annually up until 2014. In a post on Quora, Moor Xu ’13, former head grader and executive producer of SMT, cited logistical reasons for the hiatus.

“Stanford never provided the SMT organizers with many resources,” Xu wrote. “SMT was run by a small team of dedicated student volunteers with little support from Stanford, and those volunteers do not have the ability to put a tournament together under the latest Stanford guidelines.”

According to Xu’s post, the 2015 tournament was canceled due to “increased regulation from Stanford” which precluded non-Stanford students from volunteering at the tournament. He added that under the latest policies, Stanford’s risk management department no longer allows SMT to be held at its former scale in order to limit the number of high school students on campus.

Following the policy change, Xu and other organizers of SMT subsequently partnered with AlphaStar Academy, a math competition training program, to continue to host a math competition in the Bay Area in 2016. The A-Star Math Tournament, held at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, featured a similar format to that of SMT. This year’s SMT will be the first on-campus math tournament since 2014.

Cindy Jiang ’19, who coordinates logistics for SMT, recounted her own experiences participating in similar tournaments when she was a teen.

“I did competition math as a high schooler,” she said. “HMMT was the big [tournament] on the East Coast, and SMT was the big [tournament] on the West Coast. So it was nice to think that we could bring back SMT so that people on the West Coast could also have opportunities to attend competitions.”

In addition to the tournament itself, SMT is hosting a talk by Po-Shen Loh, a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University and national coach of the U.S. International Math Olympiad Team. The talk and subsequent Q&A will be held from 9:30 to 10:50 a.m. in room 370-370.


Contact Sterling Alic at salic ‘at’

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