In Mu Alpha Theta
competitions, the interschool test
was a no holds barred
assortment of amazingly difficult questions. The only restrictions were that the questions should be vaguely related to mathematics
and should be solvable
, but even these guidelines were sometimes ignored. There were never any restrictions on how the answers were found, except perhaps stealing the answer key
. You could phone a friend
, use a laptop
, or do anything else to figure it out.
An interschool question might be about the host school: what place did their lacrosse team finish in during the 1973 state playoffs? It might be about number theory, or abstract algebra, or anything mathematical. It could be a question about Ada Lovelace's personal life, or about the 17th digit of 17 to the 1717171717th power. Often the answer could be found in reference books or computed on a laptop, but with limited resources and about 50 questions, most schools did well to have 20 or 30 answers they thought were right.
If I ever get involved with Mu Alpha Theta as an assistant to a local high school team, I'm going to hole up in the public library or a university library, get the interschool faxed to me, and pray I can find even ten answers. With modern technology, a well-connected team could really wipe up.