International Mathematical Olympiad facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
IMO logo
The logo of the International Mathematical Olympiad

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is an annual six-problem mathematical olympiad for pre-college students, and is the oldest of the International Science Olympiads. The first IMO was held in Romania in 1959. It has since been held annually, except in 1980. About 100 countries send teams of up to six students, plus one team leader, one deputy leader, and observers.

The content ranges from extremely difficult algebra and pre-calculus problems to problems on branches of mathematics not conventionally covered at school and often not at university level either, such as projective and complex geometry, functional equations and well-grounded number theory, of which extensive knowledge of theorems is required. Calculus, though allowed in solutions, is never required, as there is a principle that anyone with a basic understanding of mathematics should understand the problems, even if the solutions require a great deal more knowledge.

The selection process differs by country, but it often consists of a series of tests which admit fewer students at each progressing test. Awards are given to approximately the top-scoring 50% of the individual contestants. Contestants must be under the age of 20 and must not be registered at any tertiary institution. Subject to these conditions, an individual may participate any number of times in the IMO. The IMO has been held every year since 1959. It takes place in a different country (which is called the "host country") from year to year.

The International Mathematical Olympiad is one of the most prestigious mathematical competitions in the world. In January 2011, Google sponsored €1 million to the International Mathematical Olympiad organization.

Media coverage

  • A documentary, "Hard Problems: The Road To The World's Toughest Math Contest" was made about the United States 2006 IMO team.
  • A BBC documentary titled Beautiful Young Minds aired July 2007 about the IMO.
  • A BBC fictional film titled X+Y released in September 2014 tells the story of an autistic boy who took part in the Olympiad.

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International Mathematical Olympiad Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.