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  Australia wins inaugural Mathematics Ashes

Posted Friday 18 July 2008

Australia has taken the Mathematics Ashes (see story below) for competition at mathematics between Australian and United Kingdom High School students.

Teams of both countries were training together in Lisbon before the International Mathematical Olympiad being held this week in Madrid. Their final training exam was the official one for the new competition to be conducted annually. Later this week the United Kingdom scripts will be burned and permanently sealed in a funeral urn to be held by the winning team.

In the spirit of their cricket counterparts, this was an even team performance, with all students solving problem 1 and a number solving problem 2. Sampson Wong continued his form with geometry, solving problem 3. Sampson has now solved all geometry problems set in training this year, including all shortlisted geometry problems from the 2007 International Mathematical Olympiad.

The Australian win was relatively comfortable, with a final score of 72 points as against 55 scored by the United Kingdom.

Australian scores were:

CHEUNG Paul Sydney Technical High School NSW 12 7 7 0
ELVEY PRICE Andrew Brunswick Secondary College VIC 11 7 7 0
GARDAM Giles Hurlstone Agricultural High School NSW 12 7 1 0
LO Irene James Ruse Agricultural High School NSW 12 7 1 0
MENZIES Max Sydney Grammar School NSW 12 7 7 0
WONG Sampson James Ruse Agricultural High School NSW 10 7 0 7

Mathematics Ashes established for competition between Australia and United Kingdom

Posted Sunday 15 June 2008


An urn has been donated for the purpose of being a perpetual trophy in mathematics competitions between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The Australian and United Kingdom Mathematics Trusts have combined on a number of projects in recent years, in cross-promoting publications and in producing the international journal Mathematics Competitions and last year the two countries' International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) teams trained together in Sydney before participating in the IMO in Vietnam.

This year the two teams will train together in Lisbon before participating in the IMO in Madrid, between 10 and 22 July. Australian Mathematics Trust Executive Director Peter Taylor has donated the urn for perpetual competition, the first of which will be held on the final day of the training camp in Lisbon.

The urn is a genuine 6.5in funeral urn purchased from a funeral parlour in Canberra. At a ceremony in Madrid the scripts of the losing team will be burned and the ashes sealed permanently inside the urn. The urn will be retained by the winning team.


At a function in Melbourne on Friday 13 June Taylor presented the urn to Australian Team Leader Dr Angelo Di Pasquale (above) for taking to Lisbon.

The aim is for the teams to train together before IMOs where feasible, and compete for the Mathematics Ashes on the last day. In years when this is not feasible the Ashes will be decided by the Australian and United Kingdom team scores at the IMO itself.

Taylor has also donated a cup, which will be retained by the Team Leader of the winning team between competitions.

Who would have won this event in the past?

The IMO has a history dating back to 1959, when it was first held in Romania. In fact for many years the event was substantially the domain of the Eastern European Socialist bloc. Despite this United Kingdom entered from quite an early time, participating in fact from 1967. During this time until 1981, when Australia first entered, the event remained relatively small, but United Kingdom was very successful, having a number of top 5 positions, coming 2nd in fact in 1977.

After 1981, when there were still just 27 countries, the event grew to 49 countries when Australia hosted the event in 1988. After the emergence of many new countries in the early 1990s, and the entry of most Latin American countries since Argentina hosted in 1997, the event has changed some character and grown to a record 93 countries in 2007.

United Kingdom would have easily retained the Ashes throughout the 1980s but since then there has been more of a contest, as the table below shows. Australia would have won for the first time in 1993, and then all years from 1997 (when Australia recorded its only top 10 placing) until 2002.

Past Scores

Winning country in blue, country followed by points and placing. Note that a student's score has always been out of a total of 42 (6 problems each worth 7 points) there were 8 to a team until 1981, 4 in 1982 and 6 per team since 1983.

1981 Washington UK 301 3 AUS 122 21
1982 Budapest UK 103 10 AUS 66 20
1983 Paris UK 121 11 AUS 86 19
1984 Prague UK 169 6 AUS 103 15
1985 Helsinki UK 121 10 AUS 117 11
1986 Warsaw UK 141 11 AUS 117 15
1987 Havana UK 182 10 AUS 143 15
1988 Canberra UK 121 11 AUS 100 17
1989 Braunschweig UK 122 20 AUS 119 22
1990 Beijing UK 141 10 AUS 121 15
1991 Sigtuna UK 142 18 AUS 129 20
1992 Moscow UK 168 5 AUS 118 19
1993 Istanbul UK 118 14 AUS 125 13
1994 Hong Kong UK 206 7 AUS 173 12
1995 Toronto UK 180 10 AUS 145 21
1996 Mumbai UK 161 5 AUS 93 23
1997 Mar del Plata UK 144 16 AUS 187 9
1998 Taipei UK 122 17 AUS 146 13
1999 Bucharest UK 100 20 AUS 116 15
2000 Taejon UK 96 22 AUS 122 16
2001 Washington UK 79 31 AUS 97 25
2002 Glasgow UK 116 27 AUS 117 26
2003 Tokyo UK 128 10 AUS 92 26
2004 Athens UK 134 20 AUS 125 27
2005 Merida UK 159 13 AUS 117 25
2006 Ljubljana UK 117 19 AUS 108 26
2007 Hanoi UK 95 28 AUS 110 22
2008 Madrid UK AUS

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