Solve Mathematical Problems Creatively Through Simon Marais Mathematics Competition 2021

Prepared by: Dr. Siti Mariam Norrulashikin, Dr. Mohammad Izat Emir Zulkifly, Dr. Nurul Aini Jaafar & Dr Siti Pauliena Mohd Bohari

Simon Marais Mathematics Competition (SMMC) is an annual competition. One of the program’s objectives is to solve mathematical problems creatively among undergraduate students worldwide, including the Asia-Pacific region. This program was initiated by Dr Simon Marais, a South-African-born physicist, who passed away on 25th February 2015 due to cancer. This year, the competition was held virtually on Saturday, 9th October 2021.

A total of thirty-three undergraduate students from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) participated in this competition. There were also training classes conducted by the mathematics lecturers from the same department in preparation for the competition.

The five lecturers involved in training the students include Dr. Ali Hassan Mohamed Murid (Professor Adjung), Prof. Dr. Tahir Ahmad, Dr. Ahmad Fadillah Embong, Dr. Muhammad Izat Emir Zulkifly, and Dr. Mohd Ali Khameini Ahmad. Meanwhile, the committee, Dr. Mohammad Izat Zulkifly Emir, Dr. Nurul Aini Jaafar, and Dr. Siti Mariam Norrulashikin, managed the students during the competition.

The mathematical area covered in this competition includes Algebra, Sequence and Series, Graph Theory, Number theory, and Probability Theory.

SMMC is generally conducted in two sessions-closed book exam (three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon) at participants home university. However, in order to proceed with the competition this year without compromising the health and well-being of anyone involved, significant changes have been made.

The changes include (i) it is not mandatory for students to be on campus on the day of the competition; thus, the competition can be conducted online (ii) the regular prize of AUD100,000 in total prize money have been replaced by several alternative monetary prizes. The results of SMMC will be announced in early December 2021.

It was a different and challenging experience as it was conducted during this COVID-19 pandemic. However, the program was ended successfully.