My Experience at IMO 2019

The Irish team at IMO 2019

This year IMO took place in the University of Bath, UK, on July 11 to 22. It may not have been an exotic destination compared to recent years, but it a beautiful location nonetheless. 

The competition

The two 4.5 hour papers took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. All 600 contestants attempted to solve 3 questions each day in a large sports hall in the university. Day one covered algebra, geometry and combinatorics while day two’s problems were about number theory, combinatorics and geometry. You can view the problems at https://www.imo-official.org/year_info.aspx?year=2019. Ireland did relatively well this year, Tianyiwa Xie and I both received honourable mentions, for problem one and four respectively. Lucas Bachmann won Ireland’s second silver medal ever, in over thirty years of competing, which was fantastic! 

Excursion

We could choose one excursion from several options such as Stonehenge and Glastonbury. The Irish team opted to visit Oxford. After being given a brief introduction to the maths course at the university in the magnificent mathematics institute, we were lucky enough to receive a talk from Andrew Wiles, the mathematician who proved Fermat’s Last Theorem. His informative lecture covered finding solutions to equations and briefly explained some of the topics he conducts research into. I found the lecture to be both fascinating, since research maths is something I have little experience with, and quite accessible. After this the group was split up, the Irish team were taken on a tour of Mansfield College. Our tour guide was friendly and informative, while the college itself reminded me of Hogwarts. We then had free time to explore the city. It is a beautiful, historical city with spectacular buildings, but it was difficult to get an inside into the atmosphere of the town during term time since it was mainly full of tourists. Despite the awful weather, it was a great visit and very helpful for anyone considering studying maths at Oxford.

Other activities

We had a great guide, Tasos, who brought us all around Bath and the surrounding countryside.  We went to Bristol and walked across the city to see a suspension bridge with an amazing view. As a team we played card games some evenings. The opening ceremony was short and to the point, speeches were kept to the absolute minimum, with the main event being the team parade. The closing ceremony, which was held in a marquee in the university, was similar. Afterwards there was a funfair, dinner and live music.

My experience

Overall I enjoyed IMO. I really enjoyed solving problems both in training and the competition. I loved exploring Bath, it has gorgeous architecture and a rich history, and despite the heavy rain, the trip to Oxford was fantastic. The papers this year were nice and I enjoyed solving the problems. Participating in maths olympiads has really allowed me to develop my problem solving skills and mathematical passion and ability. Thank you to everyone who organised the IMO and who organises the training and enrichment classes in Ireland for making it all possible!