The International Mathematical Olympiad 2001 Presented by the Akamai Foundation Opens Today in Washington, D.C.


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More Than 80 Countries Send 500 'Mathletes' to Olympiad; Held in US for First Time in 20 Years

Executive Director of UNICEF and Secretary of Education Welcome Competitors

Washington, D.C. - July 4, 2001 - The most prestigious high school mathematical competition in the world, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), kicked-off today in Washington, D.C. Commencing with "The March of the Competitors," the Opening Ceremony at George Mason University recognized the 83 participating countries and featured a live Web cast from Geneva by Carol Bellamy, the executive director of UNICEF, and closing pre-recorded comments from the Secretary of Education, Rod Paige. Also speaking at the event was Tom Leighton, MIT scientist and founding member of the presenting sponsor, The Akamai Foundation.

This year marks the first time that the United States has hosted the IMO in 20 years. The event begins today and will continue through July 13, with 500 elite high school mathematicians representing their countries in one of the most-watched global math competitions. A highlight of the competition will be the grueling examination taken by all students on July 8 and 9, with each of the six problems taking approximately one hour to complete.

"We are honored to have so many advanced math students from around the world competing in the United States this year," said IMO president, John Kenelly. "And we are extremely grateful to the Akamai Foundation and the other major supporters of the IMO, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Texas Instruments, and Wolfram Research who are helping to raise the level of mathematics education on both a national and global level."

Team USA 2001 is led by home schooled student Reid Barton, from Arlington, Massachusetts. His teammates include Gabriel Carroll of Oakland, California; Ian Le of Princeton, New Jersey; TianKai Liu of Saratoga, California; Oaz Nir of Saratoga, CA; and David Shin of West Orange, New Jersey. The six-student team outscored more than 260,000 other U.S. high school mathematicians in the national Mathematical Association of America competition, the US Mathematical Olympiad held on May 1, 2001.

In her remarks today via live Web cast from Geneva, Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF, used numerical statistics to promote the rights of children around the world, including the current 100 million primary school-age children who never had the chance to go to school. She urged the students in the audience to use their problem solving abilities to help children on a global basis.

"Great opportunities will open themselves to you -- opportunities in business, in science, in academics, in government and especially opportunities in technology, including the technology behind communication networks like the World Wide Web," said Bellamy. She concluded with words of encouragement to the young mathematicians competing, "may the best problem-solver win."

"We live in a math-driven, Internet-driven world, and our efforts are designed to support math awareness as well as foster all students in the field, whether they are struggling or excelling," said Wendy Ziner, President of the Akamai Foundation. "The students at the top of their math game are the foundation of our future, and will play a critical role in the rapid advancements within the mathematics, science and technology fields."

The winning teams will be awarded their medals at the closing ceremony on July 13, 2001 at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center. Aside from the competition, the students will explore the Washington, D.C. area, and spend a day at the National Zoo, attend a minor league baseball game, The Prince William Canons, take a trip to Baltimore, MD, and more.

To view Carol Bellamy's Web cast from today's event, please go to http://www.unicef.org/exspeeches/01esp27.htm

To learn more about the IMO 2001, please go to http://www.imo2001.org

About The Akamai Foundation:
The Akamai Foundation, founded in September of 2000 by the management and employees of Akamai Technologies, is designed to strengthen mathematics education and performance in United States public schools (K-12), through a series of initiatives aimed at fostering excellence in math learning and proficiency for an Internet-centric world. These initiatives, include sponsorship of the IMO, MAA and AMC; the establishment of an annual college scholarship fund for top performing students from each of the 50 states; and the creation of an interactive mathematical Web site, www.magicofmath.com to encourage more young people to use the Internet as a tool for math education.

About the IMO:
The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in different country. The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania with 7 countries participating. It has gradually expanded to over 80 countries from all 5 continents. This year's event in Washington DC is sponsored by some of today's leading technology organizations, including Texas Instruments and Wolfram Research.

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