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Seniors Taylor Brysiewicz, Robert Marks take top honors in math contest

April 7, 2014

Photo of a math equation on chalkboardExperience seemed to be a strong factor in the recent 2014 Northern Illinois University Mathematics Contest, as the top two places went to returning participants who improved on their results from last year.

The $100 first prize was won by Taylor Brysiewicz of Bartlett, while Robert Marks of Crystal Lake took home $75 for finishing second.

Both are seniors majoring in mathematical sciences. Taylor and Marks also placed second and third, respectively, in the 2013 contest.

The 2014 competition saw a tie for third place between Greg Sassi, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Island Lake, and Daniel Trout, a freshman mathematical sciences major from Batavia. Each was awarded $50.

The winners will be recognized Sunday, April 13, at the Department of Mathematical Sciences’ Awards Ceremony and Reception.

The annual Northern Illinois University Mathematics Contest is open to all full-time undergraduates at NIU and has a format that gives freshmen and sophomores a fair chance to compete with juniors and seniors.

Each contestant turns in solutions to a choice of six out of 11 problems. The underclassmen have fewer restrictions on their choice of problems to attempt.

Topics this year ranged from high school-level algebra, number theory and geometry problems to calculus, linear algebra and differential equations. Professors Harvey Blau, Deepak Naidu and Gleb Sirotkin supervised the competition.

One of the elementary-level problems was the following: Let A, B, C and D be placed consecutively on a circle. Let W, X, Y and Z be the midpoints of the arcs AB, BC, CD and DA, respectively. Show that the chords WY and XZ are perpendicular.

Here is a more sophisticated calculus problem: Prove that the sequence generated by iterating the sin function n times, and beginning at a value of 1 radian, converges as n goes to infinity.

For more information on the contest, contact Blau at (815) 753-6772 or [email protected].