British Mathematical Olympiad

A short history of the BMOC

The British Mathematical Olympiad Committee was established in 1991 with the support of

as “Participating Societies”, each nominating two members.

Prior to 1991, the activities inherited by the BMOC had been run under the auspices of the Mathematical Association.

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) provides a natural focus for the work of the BMOC. However, activities go far beyond the selection of six students to represent the United Kingdom in the IMO. The intention is to provide a mathematical stimulus for able and interested students, mainly in the age range 15–18, and their teachers. Current provision includes the running of challenging problem-solving competitions and mentoring schemes.

Many students participating in BMOC activities have been involved in competitions at junior or intermediate level in earlier years. These competitions came into being largely because of the energy and enthusiasm of Dr Tony Gardiner (University of Birmingham).

As the number of entrants began to increase significantly, there was a need for an organisation to take on responsibility for the competitions at all three levels (junior, intermediate and senior). In 1996 the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) was set up for this purpose. The BMOC became the Senior Olympiad Subtrust of the UKMT but retained its original name which had become well established.

As the number of members of the BMOC gradually increased, threatening to make the committee unwieldy, an Executive Committee (BMOS), sometimes called the British Mathematical Olympiad Subtrust, was formed. This meets twice a year. The full BMOC, which now meets annually, includes a number of people who have served as the Leader or Deputy Leader of a UK IMO team in the past. Another important subset of the BMOC is the Problems Group, responsible for maintaining a constant supply of new and interesting problems for use in the domestic competitions and for submission to the IMO each year.

In 2000, the BMOC set up its first mentoring scheme. This involved around 25 students who were all in serious contention for a place in the IMO team in the current or following session. The 8 mentors were all “Old Olympians” who had gone through the IMO system and were keen to give something back. This scheme, now called the Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme, was joined in 2002 by a Senior Mentoring Scheme. This is aimed at students who have attended a Summer School and the mentors are again mostly Old Olympians. Currently there are over 130 students and 50 mentors on the scheme; in addition, teachers from around 200 schools receive the mentoring materials for use with their students. It is intended that the Senior Scheme should be available to all students who can benefit from it.

The Advanced Olympiad Mentoring Scheme complements various Olympiad training.

Further information about the mentoring schemes and their aims is available from the UKMT website.