# Proposing a problem

**We are currently accepting problem proposals for the 2019-2020 competition.**

If you are a researcher at an academic institution with a problem you would like
to feature in one of our contest papers, you can send it to us using
the form linked above by **Sunday 17 November 2019**. We will be accepting late
proposals until 31 January 2020 for our Round Two paper.

Please read the guidelines on this page before making your submission. You will need to include your name and at least one outline of a solution. The official problem proposal form will guide you through this process. Any further details such as variations of the problem, alternative solutions, or background on the problem are not necessary but will help immensely with problem selection.

If you have any enquiries, please contact our chief curator, Tony, at problems@icmathscomp.org.

## Areas of mathematics

We are looking for problems in calculus and analysis (e.g. limits, summations, and integrals), abstract algebra, combinatorics, geometry (including discrete and combinatorial geometry), number theory, probability, game theory, and so on...

In short, we welcome any problem that can be phrased using terminology covered up to and including the first year of a typical undergraduate mathematics course.

## Suitability

In general, we apply the same set of criteria as mathematical Olympiads such as the International Mathematical Olympiad. The ideal problem should:

- Admit several solutions and approaches, all of which require some degree of creative thinking. Additionally, knowledge of advanced mathematics such as that at postgraduate level should not give a clear advantage to contestants.
- Not be easily solvable by methods of brute force, known as "bashing". Some examples of bashing include using trigonometric identities or a coordinate system in a geometry problem, or using Lagrange multipliers to solve an inequality, but there are many more.
- Not have a "sledgehammer" solution, i.e. there should not be a theorem that, when applied, trivialises the problem.

Very few proposed problems fully satisfy all three criteria — these are just the criteria with which we will judge the suitability of problems.

### How do I know the problem isn't already known?

If in doubt, it is better to propose the problem. The problems committee are responsible for checking this criteria, although any comments you submit in regards to this will be greatly appreciated.

## Difficulty

We are looking for problems that have a similar range of difficulty to other similar competitions such as:

- The Putnam Competition in the US (archive of problems),
- The Simon Marais Mathematical Competition in Asia-Pacific, or
- Many of the Mathematical Olympiads aimed at high school students, such as the International Mathematical Olympiad or the British Maths Olympiad.

## What if my problem is used/not used in the competition?

If your problem is used in the competition, your name and institution will appear next to the problem when the papers are released publicly. We will not disclose unused problems, so you may use any of your unused proposals for other purposes. However, we ask that you wait until problems from the final round have been released in mid-March before doing so. You may also leave it as a proposal for the following year.