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Talented math students from middle school on up are encouraged to enter the USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS), a mathematics competition open to all middle and high school students in the United States. Sponsored by the National Security Agency, the USAMTS aims to help students develop their problem-solving skills, improve their technical writing abilities, and mature mathematically while also having fun. Problems are published on the USAMTS web site four times a year, one month before the solutions are due. The problems range in difficulty from being within the reach of most high school students to challenging the best students in the nation. Students can use any materials to solve the problems, including books, calculators, and computers, but all work must be their own. Each year, the USAMTS consists of four rounds, each round having five problems. Students are asked to submit solutions to at least two of the problems in each round. They can earn 5 points for the complete, well-written solution of each problem, and hence they can accumulate up to 100 points during the school year. Student solutions to the USAMTS problems are graded by mathematicians, and comments are returned to the students. This year’s special topic is “expected value.”

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