University of Pittsburgh
March 30, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, March 31 -- University of Pittsburgh sophomore Dragos Ghioca has outscored 2,569 mathematics undergraduates from nearly 420 colleges and universities to rank 10th in the 59th William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition that was held in December.

Pitt ranked first among all public colleges and universities in the United States, and 13th overall, in the team competition.

The Putnam competition, which began in 1938 and includes schools from the United States and Canada, is the most prestigious undergraduate mathematics event of its kind in the world.

Ghioca is a student in Pitt's Department of Mathematics and holds a Chancellor's Scholarship from the University Honors College (UHC). Other Pitt math majors in the competition were freshman Liviu Ignat, junior Jonathan Holland, and freshman Chad Newell. Ignat, also a Chancellor's Scholar in UHC, outscored 2,543 contestants to rank 34th. Holland, a published Brackenridge Fellow with UHC, and Newell outscored 2077 contestants and 1752 contestants, respectively.

Pitt is the only Pennsylvania institution, private or public, and the only public university in the United States among the top 26 individual scorers.

Pitt's 13th place in the team competition with Ghioca, Ignat and Holland is two positions above its rank last year. The U.S. schools ahead of Pitt this year (all of them private) include Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Cal Tech, Chicago, Duke, Johns Hopkins and Stanford.

"There is no more revered turf in undergraduate competitions than the Putnam," says UHC Dean Alec Stewart. "Dragos Ghioca, Liviu Ignat, Jonathan Holland, and Chad Newell are first class. The leadership of mathematics professor and Putnam committee chair Greg Constantine on behalf of undergraduate attainment has once again brought us great pride."

Ghioca missed by just two points (of 120) the highest rank of "Putnam Fellow." Other U.S. students sharing his rank were from Cal Tech, Harvard, Stanford, Simon Fraser, and Yale. In last year's competition Ghioca tied for 30th place overall, and Pitt undergrad Ovidiu Savin, now a Pitt graduate student in mathematics, achieved rank equally at the top with five other Putnam Fellows.

"The continuing success of our Putnam teams has brought a new level of excitement to our undergraduate mathematics program," says John Chadam, chairman of the Mathematics Department. "The extraordinary achievements of Ghioca, Ignat, Holland, Newell and Savin have rubbed off on their peers and have attracted many bright high school students to our excellent Honors Program."