Shropshire Star

Shropshire student Olivia through to UK mathematics final

A high-flying Shropshire student is through to the UK final of a competition for young mathematicians.

Olivia Guo

Olivia Guo, 17, who is in her final year at Acton Burnell’s Concord College, is among four students in the final of the Who Wants to be a Mathematician championship.

It will be held in London on November 28 and the UK winner will then go on to compete in the Grand Final in Baltimore at the Joint Mathematics Meeting – the world’s largest gathering of mathematicians.

They will pit their mathematical wits against the regional winners from across the US and Canada and the overall champion will win $10,000 to be shared between the student and their school.

Olivia, who has applied to study mathematics at Cambridge, is captain of the Concord senior mathematics team.

There have been two qualifying rounds, both multiple choice, taken on a computer. One thousand students in the UK took the first round.

Olivia was among seven Concord students who competed and had to get seven out of 10 to progress to round two. She said the second round was ‘much more challenging’ and scored nine out of 10.

"The last question was very hard and I felt was unsolvable in the time allowed," she said.


“There are lots of interesting problems and equations in mathematics, but if I had to choose a favourite it would be e^(i*pi)+1=0 also known as Euler’s Identity, which contains five of the most important numbers in mathematics.”

Maths teacher Kelly Arthur said Olivia's achievement is "exceptional".

She added: “The Who Wants to be a Mathematician championship was started by the American Mathematical Society in the US in 2001.

“A couple of years ago The Good Thinking Society and Simon Singh MBE started running heats in the UK, but this is the first year Concord has entered.

"I encouraged our promising mathematics students to take part and I’m thrilled that they all did so well.

“Olivia really is exceptional to have reached the final four having had to complete some very difficult maths accurately and under intense time pressure in the earlier rounds.”