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May 28, 1998


OTTAWA, Ontario -- Six of Canada's best high school mathematics students have been chosen to represent their country at the 39th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). The IMO is the world championship mathematics competition for high school students and is being held this year in Taipei (Taiwan) from July 10 to 21, 1998.

"The six students have demonstrated the problem solving skills, comprehension and creativity that is so essential to compete against the very best at the international level," said Dr. Graham Wright, Executive Director of the Canadian Mathematical Society, the organization responsible for the selection and training of Canada's annual IMO team. "They represent the potential of students across Canada and will be excellent "mathletes" for our country. The increased interest and involvement in such competitions and the role model of former contestants is reflected in the fact that, for the first time, there are two female students on the Canadian team."

The six students -- Adrian Birka, Lakeshore Catholic High School, Port Colborne, Ontario; Adrian Chan, Upper Canada College, Toronto, Ontario; Jimmy Chui, Earl Haig Secondary School, North York, Ontario; Mihaela Enchescu, Dawson College, Westmount, Quebec; Adrian Tang, Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ontario; and Yin (Jessie) Lei, Vincent Massey Secondary School, Windsor, Ontario -- were selected from among more than 200,000 students in grades seven to 13 (plus CEGEP) who participated in local, provincial and national mathematics contests. Adrian Birka, Adrian Chan (silver medalist), Jimmy Chui (Honourable Mention) and Mihaela En chescu (bronze medalist) were members of the Canadian team to the 1997 IMO in Mar del Plata (Argentina).

The Canadian team members, who must be less than 20 years old when they write the IMO competition, will be pitting their skills against more than 450 of the world's best students. The IMO competition paper, which is set by an international jury of mathematicians, will be written on Wednesday, July 15 and Thursday, July 16. The contest is comprised of two exams, each consisting of three questions and having a time limit of four and one-half hours. "It is a mathematical hexathlon," commented Wright.

The team will be accompanied by Team Leader, Dr. Christopher Small (University of Waterloo) and Deputy Team Leader, Mr. J.P. Grossman, a three-time Canadian IMO medalist (gold in Russia - 1992 and silver in Sweden - 1991 and China - 1990) and a current graduate student in computer engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Arthur Baragar (University of Nevada), a former Canadian IMO team member, and Dr. Dorette Pronk (Dalhousie University) will also be part of the Canadian delegation to 1998 IMO.

Canada first sent a team to an IMO competition in 1981. Since then, Canadian students have done very well receiving a total of eight gold, 21 silver, and 39 bronze medals. At last year's IMO in Mar del Plata (Argentina), the Canadian team placed 29th out of the 82 competing countries and won two silver medals, two bronze medals and an honourable mention.

"These competitions are one way of making mathematics education more relevant, challenging and fun for students," said Dr. Bill Sands, University of Calgary and Chair of the CMS IMO Committee. "They provide Canadians with the opportunity to measure their abilities against the best in the world."

The six students will be attending a special IMO Training Camp at the University of Calgary, Alberta (June 30th to July 12th ). They will leave Calgary for Taiwan on July 12th and return to Canada on July 21st.

Sponsors of the 1998 Canadian team include: the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training; the Quebec Ministry of Education; Alberta Education; the Canadian Mathematical Society; Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd.; the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada; Industry Canada; the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences; the Samuel Beatty Fund; the McLean Foundation as well as the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Faculty of Science, University of Calgary; the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, University of Waterloo; the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computing Science, Dalhousie University; the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Ottawa; and the Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Graham P. Wright
Executive Director
Canadian Mathematical Society
Tel: (613) 562-5702
Dr. Bill Sands
Chair - IMO Committee
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
University of Calgary
Tel: (403) 220-6310

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