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A Chinese American revived the US Olympic Mathematics National Team: Taking the helm for six years and winning the championship four times, breaking the "monopoly" of the Chinese team

via:博客园     time:2021/2/20 0:17:10     readed:343

Loboshen, a man who revived the national team of American Olympiad Mathematics. Under his guidance, the US Olympic Mathematics National Team ushered in a golden age.

It's the first time the U.S. team has won since 1994.


Looking back on his eight years of coaching career, Luo Boshen said the most in a public interview:

My goal in coaching has never been to win.

After careful calculation, it was an accident to coach the Olympic Mathematics National team.

In 2002, when he was a sophomore at Caltech, he applied for the teaching assistant position of the Olympic mathematics training camp (MOP) in the United States at the suggestion of a friend.

Rob hesitated for a moment, because he took part in the 1999 International Olympiad in high school. At that time, he ranked fifth among six American players and finally won the silver medal, which was not ideal.

I never thought about applying before. It's not because I don't want to. It's because I think there are better people out there.

But he finally agreed.

Fortunately, in that year, mop suddenly increased its budget by a large margin, and the number of students increased by five times, which required the introduction of a large number of teachers.

Luo Boshen got the last ticket and joined the mop teaching assistant team.

According to his own introduction, he volunteered to teach the students when he finished the task of revising the examination papers.

He will carry out each class around a group of carefully selected related topics, encourage students to express their own ideas and brainstorm together to solve the problems.

I'm more inclined to let the whole class brainstorm than to tell the students how to solve problems in class.

Results at the end of the mop training program, he left a deep impression on the students and was selected as the best lecturer by the students.


Photo source: Rob knows it

As a result, he never left the teaching assistant team of mop. Until 2004, he was appointed deputy head of the U.S. national team for the first time.

As deputy leader, he took a series of reform measures. For example, help high school students to make clear the direction after IMO competition.

At that time, an evening seminar would be held every other day. The TA would introduce their work content and focus on how they went from IMO to the present.

For another example, let the students participate in the University's academic research.

At that time, Luo Boshen organized an academic seminar in the University, where some teaching staff raised mathematical research problems and led undergraduates to solve them together, and Orsay students could also sit in and ask questions. Over time, some students also participated in the cooperation of scientific research papers.

In an interview with quantamagazine, loboshen cited such an example.

Even if there is no content about quantum mechanics in IMO, quantum algorithms for decomposing numbers will be discussed in the seminar.

In 2013, the American Mathematical Association invited him as head coach. He accepted the appointment, but he said it first.

If I'm the head coach, I'll be ready for the decline of the U.S. team.

My goal is not to rank the IMO team, or how many medals I have won. It's whether the students who come to the training can succeed in more than 20 years.

As a result, two years later, the United States team ushered in the best ranking in 21 years.

At that time, the main innovation he took in the training camp was to invite free competition teams from all over the world to study with the US team.

In June every year, the Mathematics Association invites 60 high school students to participate in the training camp. According to the examination results of the previous year, six of them have been selected to represent the United States in IMO.

However, the remaining 54 high school students will still train together with members of other countries to establish cooperative relations. Even if you can't see IMO, it's very valuable for these students.

Luo Boshen told quantamagazine:

Our goal is not to send 6 people to participate in IMO, but to let 60 people feel the atmosphere of IMO.

This just confirms that Luo Bo Shen didn't want to win from the beginning, but wanted more students to feel mathematics, understand mathematics and learn to study mathematical problems.

This idea was also carried out in his career as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

In CMU, Luo Boshen opened a special training course for Putnam mathematics competition, called Putnam seminar.

Putnam mathematics competition is a standardized test of undergraduate mathematics ability in the United States and Canada.

Every year, about 5000 undergraduates from 500 universities come to participate in the competition, and each university will send a three person delegation to join the competition.

In the past decade, CMU has ranked second in the top 10% of individual players, second only to MIT.

In 2016, the three representatives of CMU all ranked in the top five and won the historic champion seat for the school.

Before that, CMU had never won the first place since 1939.

As a matter of fact, he had an early connection with mathematics.

Both his parents are Singaporean Chinese. His father, Luo Weixian, is a professor of statistics at the University of Wisconsin Madison, with honors such as fellow of the international society for mathematical statistics and fellow of the American Statistical Association. His mother, Li Yuee, also worked as a high school mathematics teacher in Singapore.

But his parents brought him more than just a method to solve problems.

In an interview with quantamagazine, Luo Boshen cited such an example:

If you stay in a two-dimensional plane, you're in trouble, because the solution is to build a tetrahedron.

Luo Boshen said that his father would often take his brother and sister together to study similar mathematical problems, and discuss the answers and ideas together.


The second on the right is Luo Boshen, source: Facebook

In such a family atmosphere, it can be said that mathematics has always been a part of his life. He also understood this truth very early in the challenge of difficult problems: to solve mathematical problems requires perseverance, and to be good at breaking the mindset.

So when he was in junior high school, he naturally began to contact mathematics competition.

The competitive atmosphere in the competition fully conforms to my three interests: people, challenge and thinking.

In the most influential junior high school math contest in the United States, Luo Boshen ranked third in the United States.

What I see is a group of ordinary people who take off the aura of genius, and I deeply enjoy the time with them.

His road of competition has been continued.

In 1999, he represented the U.S. team in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) held in Romania and won a silver medal.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that Luo Boshen's younger brother and sister also won the first and second place in the United States in the United States in the maxcount.

His younger brother, Luo Boru, holds a doctorate in Applied Mathematics at MIT and is now an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

Her sister, Dr. Luo Boling, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and is now a lecturer in the Department of pure mathematics and mathematical statistics at Cambridge University.

He was also a math preacher

And his teaching method, always emphasizes the teaching in fun.

In 2014, he launched a free app called expei, which uses interactive jigsaw puzzles to teach basic mathematical concepts.


He has also produced a number of youtube videos, not only with positive course content:


There is also a similar video to analyze the basic mathematical knowledge behind the choreography (manual dog head)


He gave such an example:

When talking about the conversion of decimal and fraction, I did not ask students to practice each method systematically in class, but guided them to find problems from the wonderful number 1 / 89 (about 0.011235).

In addition to popular science education, as an associate professor of mathematics in CMU, Luo Boshen also relies on the keen mathematicians to further study mathematics teaching methods.

For example, at the end of 2019, he proposed a more easily learned method to solve quadratic equations with one variable.


It has been commented that the application of this method in programming can make the code more readable.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that as a Chinese, Luo Bo Shen has always been very interested in China. When he came to China, he was used to speaking in English and made several Chinese speeches.

He was inspired by his attention in China and determined to build a bridge between the East and the West.

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