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Triumph over Meme: BracU Students Top the Undergraduate Mathematics Olympiad

“Maths, not BracU students’ cup of tea”– among the buzz of this meme statement, the tremendous success of three BracU students at the 14th National Undergraduate Mathematics Olympiad came as a blow of victory.

The 14th National Undergraduate Mathematics Olympiad (NUMO) 2023, organised by the Bangladesh Mathematical Society in collaboration with AF Mujibur Rahman Foundation was held on 10th May 2024 at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Dhaka. The olympiad took place as part of the International Day of Mathematics celebrations. In this prestigious competition, three BracU students, Atonu Roy Chowdhury (Senior, MNS), Soumitra Das (Senior, MNS), and Nian Ibne Nazrul (Senior, MNS) secured the first, second, and fourth positions, respectively. These top winners are now set to participate in the 31st International Mathematics Competition (IMC) for University Students in Bulgaria, from August 5th to 11th, proudly representing the Bangladesh team in this international event.

From left, Atonu and Soumitra collecting their first and second prizes from the judges

When interviewed about their experiences, BRACU Express discovered Atonu’s interest in maths was sparked by a book on the Duckworth–Lewis method, while Soumitra was inspired by Professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal’s “গণিতের মজা মজার গণিত.” Both being recurring champions of Bangladesh Mathematics Olympiad from their school days are also receivers of the Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Scholarship.

Balancing academics and extracurricular activities is a challenge for Atonu and Soumitra. Atonu is involved in various activities, such as being the academic coordinator of Gonitkonya and leading the Bangladesh team at the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad in Georgia. Atonu commented that faculty support was invaluable for catching up on missed classes for these commitments. Soumitra prioritises tasks by categorising them as compulsory or optional and breaks down large tasks into manageable subtasks with specific deadlines.

All the winners of NUMO 2023

Atonu and Soumitra dismissed the stereotype that BracU students aren’t good at maths, emphasising the importance of ignoring external opinions and staying true to one’s passion. They stressed that hard work is key to success and advised aspiring competitors to focus on understanding problem-solving processes rather than just memorising theories.

The competition has two stages: regional and national. The MNS Department circulates details before the regional round, and interested students can collect participation forms from the department. After pre-screening, the top ten students compete in the regional round, with winners advancing to the national round. Students interested in the olympiad can find information on the Bangladesh Mathematical Society’s website (

Professor Syed Hasibul Hassan Chowdhury, Coordinator of BracU’s Mathematics Program, attributes his students’ NUMO success to their passion for mathematics, describing it as essential to their lives. He sees himself as a facilitator, learning from his “mathematically mature” students. He emphasised that their pursuit of mathematics is driven by passion, not accolades. “I am proud of my students as they are good human beings who are extremely passionate about mathematics,” he remarks. He encourages them to explore modern mathematical fields and develop new theories, finding joy when they identify mistakes in his lecture notes, illustrating the collaborative spirit in the MNS Department.

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