Meet the committee: problem selection

What is the PSC?

The PSC is the Problem Selection Committee. We’re in charge of selecting the six contest problems.

Wait, who’s “we”?

We are Daniël and Merlijn, two of the PSC members. The PSC consists of ten members and includes multiple former EGMO participants.

How did you get involved with EGMO?

We both have a history of participating in math olympiads; in fact, we were both on the “home team” for the 2011 International Mathematical Olympiad, which was also held in The Netherlands. Since then, we have been involved in the Dutch Math Olympiad in various roles: as coaches, team leaders and problem proposers.

What are you up to now?

We are both pursuing a PhD in the United States. Sadly, we are maximally far apart: Daniël studies combinatorics in San Diego (on the West Coast), while Merlijn studies evolutionary biology in Princeton (on the East Coast).

How do you find problems for the contest?

Luckily, we don’t have to come up with the problems ourselves! Problem proposals are contributed by the participating countries: each country (except for the host country) can send up to six proposals. The PSC tests all these problems, and chooses the best ones to use for the contest.

So, what makes a good contest problem?

To some extent this is a matter of personal taste, but there are definitely some criteria we apply. An ideal problem has an appealing statement, is original (not like something we’ve seen before), and requires creativity to solve. However, when deciding on the contest problems there are more factors to consider: for example, we aim for a variety in difficulty and covered topics.

Is there anything else the PSC is in charge of?

Yes! We will suggest the official English wording of the problems and we will provide official solutions as well. Sharing all our approaches that did (and did not!) work will be useful during the coordination of the students’ work.

I think I have a problem that would be suitable. How do I submit a problem?

The deadline for submitting problems for EGMO2020 has already passed, but for future olympiads you should get in touch with your country’s team leader — they are in charge of submitting problem proposals.

Can you tell us something about the problems yet?