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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Melbourne teenage mathlete wins gold for second time at International Mathematical Olympiad - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Melbourne teenage mathlete wins gold for second time at International Mathematical Olympiad - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Melbourne teenage mathlete wins gold for second time at International Mathematical Olympiad



Updated
6 hours 53 minutes ago



A Melbourne student has achieved a perfect score at
the International Mathematical Olympiad in South Africa, winning a gold
medal for the second year in a row.
Seventeen-year-old maths
genius Alex Gunning, who is in year 11 at Glen Waverley Secondary
College, was one of more than 500 contestants from 103 countries, all
under 20, competing at the prestigious event in Cape Town.


The event consisted of two four-and-a-half-hour exams, each with three questions.

Alex was one of only three students to achieve the perfect score and win a gold medal.

Australian Mathematics Trust supporter Adam Spencer said Alex's results were a "once-in-a-generation achievement" and a "triumph of great genius but also real application".

"Imagine
how complex and difficult these questions are that the best young
mathematicians in the world get 90 minutes each and for the most
difficult question on each paper - and they're worth seven marks each -
the most popular score is a zero, a one or a two," Mr Spencer said.


"What Alex has done, six questions, seven out of seven on each, 42 out of 42 is an incredible achievement."

Alex said while the questions were not particularly difficult to understand, they were "really, really hard to solve".

"The
reason why we have four-and-a-half hours for them is that there's no
set way to approach these questions ... you have no idea how to do them
when you first see them," he told 774 ABC Melbourne.


Hours of study needed to compete in olympiad

Alex's mother Hannah Cooper said getting accepted to compete in the competition required hours of studying and testing.

"There's
160 hours of gruelling testing, that's not counting any preparation -
that's 160 hours of testing to pass to actually get into it, so the rest
of the time they are relaxing and reading around the subject," Ms
Cooper said.




"It is terribly hard work. The travel and the
preparation is very gruelling and you worry that they're going to be
strong enough, but they really enjoy it, it's great peer engagement.


"We're not fanatics on study ... but it is demanding to do it all."

On
an international level, it was extremely rare for a student to win two
gold medals at the event and Alex was the first Australian to do so.


When we do maths at school it's just the same thing over and
over again, and that's why we think maths is boring, but the IMO and
Olympiads ... aren't like that.

Alex Gunning


He said he enjoyed the challenge of the international competition.

"When
we do maths at school it's just the same thing over and over again, and
that's why we think maths is boring, but the IMO and Olympiads ...
aren't like that, and that's why people are interested in them," Alex
said.


The assistant principal at Glen Waverley Secondary College,
Sandra Erickson, said the school was "absolutely thrilled" with Alex's
success.


Ms Erickson said the school had challenged Alex through enhancement programs and by organising a mentor from Monash University.

"We
have many high performing students ... if they're sitting in class just
doing the same work as everyone else they obviously would get bored,
but by challenging them through advancement they stay with their own
year level, but within maths they are pushed," she said.


"It helps their social skills as well as encouraging their ability and their particular areas of talent."

Alex said he hoped his gold medal-winning success would lead him to bigger and brighter things.

"I'm
quite pleased with the result obviously, and a lot of people seem to be
quite proud of me, it's also apparently quite good for your career to
have these things on your resume ... so I'm quite happy with that as
well."



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