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April 2, 1998

Sophomore wins prestigious Putnam math competition

Pitt sophomore Ovidiu Savin outscored more than 2,500 mathematics undergraduates from more than 400 colleges and universities in North America to achieve the highest official ranking in the 58th William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition held in December.

The Putnam competition, which began in 1938, is the most prestigious undergraduate mathematics event of its kind.

Savin is a student in the Department of Mathematics and holds a Chancellor's Scholarship from the University Honors College (UHC). Other Pitt math majors in the competition were freshman Dragos Ghioca and sophomore Jonathan Holland. Ghioca, also a Chancellor's Scholar in UHC, outscored 2,478 contestants to tie for 30th place and Holland, a published Brackenridge Fellow with UHC, finished in the top 20 percent of all contestants.

Pitt is the only Pennsylvania institution, private or public, and the only public university in the United States among the top 25 individual scorers.

Savin, Ghioca and Holland won 15th place overall in the team competition among the 313 colleges and universities entered.

"This extraordinary accomplishment," says UHC Dean Alec Stewart, "is a stunning tribute to the talent of Ovidiu Savin, Dragos Ghioca and Jonathan Holland and a profound testament to the educational leadership of mathematics professors Greg Constantine, George Sparling and Glen Whitehead on behalf of undergraduate attainment at the University of Pittsburgh." Savin joins five other top scorers: four from Harvard University and one from Washington University at St. Louis. These "Putnam Fellows" are not officially ranked among themselves.

In last year's competition Savin placed seventh overall. He now joins two other students in achieving a rank of seventh or higher in both years.

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