Volume 95, Issue 67

Thursday, January 31, 2002
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Four students seek Huron crown

UWOFA support students

Fine, take all our weed, we'll just do shrooms

Gehring gets off, legally speaking

Cooldegrees denies any wrongdoing

Hey math nerds! Solve this ya geeks

Double cohort means double the confusion

News Briefs

Hey math nerds! Solve this ya geeks

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

High school math whizzes are getting a chance to showcase their numerical genius and possibly win a scholarship.

The University of Lethbridge in Alberta is holding a contest for high school students that asks competitors to crack a computer code to gain an admission's scholarship.

Barbara Williams, Lethbridge's co-ordinator of students' liaison and recruitment, said, from all correct entries, three students will be randomly selected to receive scholarships: one for $3,500, one for $1,000 and one for $500. Winners will still have to comply with admissions requirements to be eligible, she added.

The problem can be found on the university's website.

Wolfgang Holzmann is the Lethbridge math professor who created the problem and said he used a computer code called Base4 that substitutes numbers for letters of the alphabet.

"It's a fairly well-known type of problem – this is just a variant of that type," Holzmann said, adding the problem was not created to be especially difficult for students and is, in fact, quite simple.

"It is meant to tweak their interests."

Holzmann said the problem can be solved with the creation of a simple computer program or with some mathematical "tricks." However, students are more likely to get it right using a computer program, he added.

If students get stumped, they can get helpful hints from the website or correspond with Holzmann himself – known on the site as the "Guru" – via e-mail. Such help still allows students to be eligible for the scholarships.

Karen Pypstra, Western's undergraduate scholarship officer, said as far as she knows, there has never been talk of such a contest being offered by Western, but the university offers scholarships to high school students through other academic endeavors.

In the past, Western has offered scholarships to the winning team of Reach for the Top – a high school academic competition – and the university also offers each of the top three finishers in the Canada Wide Science Fair a $2,000 scholarship.

Tom Dayus, a teacher at Central Secondary School in London, said the problem is rather tedious to complete, but he has quite a number of students who could probably solve it.

However, Dayus believes this contest could simply be a marketing gimmick for Lethbridge – a way of making potential students aware that the university exists.

–with files from Jessica Leeder

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Copyright The Gazette 2001