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The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the world championship of secondary school mathematics. It started in Romania in 1959 as a mathematical competition behind the Iron Curtain with seven participating countries. The Fiftieth International Mathematical Olympiad, held in Bremen (Germany) in mid-July 2009, boasted among its participants 565 contestants from 104 countries across the world. The IMO papers, sat on two consecutive days, consist each of three extremely difficult problems which participants are asked to solve in four and a half hours. For example, the following problem was posed as one of the two easiest problems at the IMO in 2000:

A magician has one hundred cards numbered from 1 to 100. He puts them into three boxes, so that each box contains at least one card. A member of the audience draws two cards from two different boxes and announces the sum of numbers on those cards. Given this information, the magician locates the box from which no card has been drawn. How many ways are there to put the cards in the three boxes so that the trick works?

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At most half the participants are awarded bronze, silver, and gold medals in the ratio 3:2:1. Each country may send a maximum of six students to the IMO. Future IMOs will take place in Brazil (2017), Romania (2018), and the United Kingdom (2019).

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The Luxembourg delegation at the IMO 2009.

Luxembourg took first part in the International Mathematical Olympiad in 1979 at the intiative of Lucien Kieffer who acted as team leader until 1991, when he was succeeded by Charles Leytem. Claudine Bausch, Pascal Zeihen, Bernard Felten, Ming-Koon Hsu, Philippe Schram and Mike Dostert have acted as deputy leaders. Usually Luxembourg participates with a team of two or three students, but, at IMO 2009, Luxembourg participated for the first time with a full team of six students. So far, the Luxembourg participants have won 2 gold medals, 5 silver medals, 18 bronze medals, and 11 honourable mentions. When, in 1980, the oncoming IMO in Mongolia was cancelled on political grounds, Luxembourg hosted an Ersatz-IMO in Mersch.

For any further information about the International Mathematical Olympiad (including manifold statistics and data about participants at past IMOs), please refer to the official internet site of the IMO

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