IMO 2011 Gold Medal for Malaysia

Malaysia won our first International Mathematical Olympiad Gold medal at the IMO 2011 in Amsterdam. Congratulations to How Si Yu, Form 4 student at SMK USJ12. He managed to rank #25 overall among 564 top math students from 101 countries.

His identical twin, How Si Wei who is also in Form 4 at SMK USJ12, won a Silver Medal. Tham Ying Hong, Form 5 at SMJK Katholik PJ, bagged a Bronze Medal. This is Ying Hong’s third IMO (he won a Silver Medal in IMO 2010 in Kazakhstan).

Two members of the team, Anzo Teh Zhao Yang from SMJK Chung Ling Butterworth and Justin Lim Kai Ze from SMK Tinggi Kluang, both in Form 3, won Honorable Mention award. HMs are given to participants which do not make the cutoff points for medals but able to solve a problem completely. Another member of the Malaysian team is Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, an A-Level student at INTEC Shah Alam, and former student at SM Sains Teluk Intan.

The IMO is an annual global mathematical contest which is considered the most prestigious academic competition in the world. Started in 1959, the IMO has produced a number of top mathematicians including winners of the Fields Medals, the “Nobel equivalent” of mathematics. In the 50 years of its existence, IMO has created a tremendous impact in mathematical education around the world, specifically on the development of talented students. IMO is the oldest, largest and most prestigious of the Science Olympiads.

At the IMO, students sit for two tests on two consecutive days, where each test consists of three problems to be solved in 4.5 hours. Students write their solutions individually. The problems are original and created specifically for this competition by mathematicians around the world. The level of difficulty of the problems is so high that a geometry problem in the paper was only solved completely by 6 students.

The Malaysia IMO training program, organized by the Malaysian Mathematical Sciences Society (PERSAMA), is a year long program to identify, shortlist, and train potential students for the IMO (More details at This program is run under the patronage of the Ministry of Education.

Many thanks to all who contributed to this success — the parents, PERSAMA IMO Committee Chair Prof. Arsmah Ibrahim, committee members En. Ikhwan, Prof. Daud, Prof. Jamaludin, Pn. Masita, Pn. Jamilah, Dr. Shaharudin, trainer Dr. Ong Shien Jin, sponsors (ExxonMobil Malaysia & MoE), MoE officials (Pn. Roslina and En. Rosman in particular) and well-wishers. May the team shine brighter in the future.

Utusan Malaysia coverage:

The proud team leader with the medallists: (L-R) Si Wei, Si Yu, Ying Hong. Photo credit: Utusan.

Problem 2 of the IMO 2011 (The Windmill Problem):

Let S be a finite set of at least two points in the plane. Assume that no three points of S are collinear. A windmill is a process that starts with a line L going through a single point P in S. The line rotates clockwise about the pivot P until the first time that the line meets some other point belonging to S. This point, Q, takes over as the new pivot, and the line now rotates clockwise about Q, until it next meets a point of S. This process continues indefinitely.

Show that we can choose a point P in S and a line L going through P such that the resulting windmill uses each point of S as a pivot infinitely many times.


PS: I will be going on a (well-deserved 🙂 ) vacation for the next one month. My flight back to KL is on the 28th of August, few days before Raya. In the meantime, email replies and blog updates will be infrequent, because I’m planning to “unplug” for a while, except for checking emails every week or so. So all business matters would have to wait after Raya. In advance, I wish all my Muslim readers Selamat Menyambut Bulan Ramadhan & Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

24 Responses to IMO 2011 Gold Medal for Malaysia

  1. dian says:

    wow finally a gold medal! congrats malaysian team..and bal, have fun on your trip! selamat berpuasa 🙂

  2. ashroe says:

    congrats malaysian team!! 😀

  3. 0-0 says:

    at last! congrats to the malaysian team and trainers

  4. samah says:

    tahniah bal and team! selamat berpuasa!

    • suhaimiramly says:

      thanks!! cuba buat windmill problem

      • samah says:

        hahaha.. no thanks. tak tido malam nanti.

        baca sekilas lalu – macam ada kaitan dengan prime numbers, especially bila ada statement collinear tu. as if the set S is filled with numbers, every 2 numbers are relatively prime to each other, ataupun every number in S is a prime (senang citer ada bau-bau dengan prime lah).

        S ni finite, it is made up off the multiplication of all these numbers / all those numbers are factors of S.

        whenever we do the windmill thing we ‘attempt’ to find a common divisor between two numbers / bahagi S with factor P. thing is we always iterate through all possible modulo remainders macam dalam one big circle / ring due to the ‘prime’ nature and it’s infinite.

        hahahahaha harap ko bole terima explanation cincai yang penuh dengan terms aku main tabur supaya nampak cam gaya-gaya pandai math lingo huwahahaha.

      • suhaimiramly says:

        wah wah wah…kagum

  5. jasonwai says:

    Hi, Mr. Suhaimi.

    I’m Jason, from the Subang Jaya Olympiad prep course organized around two months ago. Before I begin, I would like to thank you for your very insightful and instructive tutelage.

    The facilitators must themselves be incredibly jubilant and elated. It doesn’t seem apparent to me that anyone with a mere mediocre or above average mathematical proclivity can earn our country its very first Gold Medal to date (not that I intend to debase the achievements of his twin brother and of Tham Ying Hong’s, which are indeed astounding in equivalent terms).

    I haven’t performed too satisfactorily in this year’s OMK. The questions proposed, inclusive of the geometric and the algebraic one in Section 2, were much too alien for me. The questions assumed forms that were ostensibly distinctive from the conventional, routine problems found in the Mathematics or Additional Mathematics curriculum. Nevertheless, I have purchased some very credible reference materials from the Art of Problem Solving community. Comparatively, I’m not one with remarkable mathematical intellect, but I do intend to compensate with a sheer dose of industriousness and pertinacity.

    Participation in the Sulong category next year will probably impose even greater difficulties for me.

    Please send my regards to the twins. Thanks.

    • suhaimiramly says:

      thank for the comment.

      “Comparatively, I’m not one with remarkable mathematical intellect, but I do intend to compensate with a sheer dose of industriousness and pertinacity.”

      This is correct; hard work > innate talents all the time.

      • Jason says:

        In that case, what is the optimal amount of hard work needed to be able to rack achievements as impressive as the best Olympiad participants?

        Or better yet, how often do the twins work on mathematics?

        Do you recommend any other applicable mathematics resources?

        I will be very indebted if you are able to share your experience.


      • Jason says:

        For the sake of convenience, is it possible to connect to you via Facebook?

      • suhaimiramly says:

        The twins and other members of the IMO team clock upwards to 300-350 hours per year doing exams and problems, both during and in between training camps.

        There are some sites that list down mathematical resources for olympiad. Personally I dont have any preferences — just stick to a few titles and master them completely. for starters, Zeitz’s book is very suitable.

        Unfortunately I dont have a FB account, so email is the best way to contact me.

      • jasonwai says:

        Are you referring specifically to “The Art and Craft of Problem Solving” by Paul Zeitz?

  6. zafree says:

    congratulations bal and team! *mengalir air mata lelaki*

  7. suhaimiramly says:


  8. yus rezal says:

    Pergh! Lagi best dr team bola Harimau Malaya!! Congratulation!

  9. fajarbukan says:

    Tahniah Malaysia,….Boleh

  10. […] As many of you might already know, Suhaimi, an MIT math graduate, is the coach of the Malaysian International Math Olympiad team that won gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2011 competition. […]

  11. congratulations for u

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: