The William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition is a North American math
contest for college students. Each year on the first Saturday in December,
over 2000 students spend 6 hours (in two sittings) trying to solve 12
problems. Individual and team winners (and their schools, in the latter
case) get some money and a few minutes of fame. The material on this
page is intended to supplement the MAA's three existing compilations of
Putnam exams. These books are:
All three are currently in print, and should be available for purchase
through the MAA or at Amazon.com.
Problem statements given here are verbatim from the competition (except some
diagrams are missing), and are copyrighted by the Mathematical Association
of America. They appear here with permission, but unauthorized further
redistribution is subject to copyright restrictions.
Solutions given here are compiled based on numerous sources, including many
competitors; copyright is held by the named authors, who request that you
link to this page in lieu of reproducing these solutions elsewhere. Please
do not refer to these as "official solutions", as this creates confusion
with the true official solutions issued by the MAA reflecting the intent
of the problem setters. Those appear in the official exam summary,
along with results and statistics, in the American Mathematical
Monthly sometime in the year following the competition, usually in
October. (One typically also finds solutions in Mathematics Magazine
in early spring.) Results given here are taken from the summaries sent to
participating schools along with exam results; this typically occurs in
early April of the year following the competition. For corrections
and other comments, notify Kiran Kedlaya
(kedlaya at ucsd dot edu).
- The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. Problems and
solutions: 1938-1964, by Gleason, Greenwood and Kelly;
- The William Lowell Putnam mathematical competition. Problems and
solutions: 1965-1984, edited by Alexanderson, Klosinski and Larson;
- The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition 1985-2000: Problems,
Solutions and Commentary, by Kedlaya, Poonen and Vakil.
Results and statistics from the 2016 competition are now posted.