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Crunching numbers in Hong Kong at the Math Olympiad

World championship competition for high school students challenges the best young maths minds.

Hong Kong is hosting the 57 th International Mathematical Olympiad 2016 with a record number of participating countries and the addition of Nepal as an observer.

The competition for secondary school students from around the world has more than 100 teams competing.

James Hung, director and secretary of the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) committee in Hong Kong, said the record number of 111 countries and regions registered to take part in IMO 2016 is "a huge accomplishment.

"Having proven the growing popularity of the contest among students, schools and parents, we are aiming to share and exchange ideas on mathematical education and its development," he said. 

"With this contest we would like to help enhance local students' interest in mathematics and boost the international image of Hong Kong as an education hub."

The Math Olympiad has run for nearly six decades in different countries around the world, with topics ranging from algebra and geometry to a number theorems. The competition - which runs until July 16 - gives contestants four-and-a-half hours to solve three problems per day.

"This competition helps to create an opportunity for mathematically gifted young students to engage and challenge. The most important thing is to get students to enjoy the competition," Mike Clapper, director of the International Mathematics Olympiad Foundation, said.

"The process of getting the most unique new maths problems is to get each participating country other than the host country to submit up to six proposed problems along with solutions covering various pre-university mathematics, which are then selected by the problem selection committee for the competition."

According to Clapper, the questions are designed to be extremely difficult. It takes about two to three minutes for the best young mathematical minds to solve the questions.

The first International Mathematical Olympiad competition was held in 1959 in Romania with seven countries participating.


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