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SU students to compete in annual Simon Marais Mathematics Competition
Author: Faculty of Science (media and communication)
Published: 11/10/2022

After being placed third overall in the Western division of the annual Simon Marais Mathematics Competition in 2021, Stellenbosch University will again compete against students from 70 universities from around the world on 15 October 2022.

The competition was established in 2017 in honour of the late Dr Simon Marias – a SU alumnus in physics and asset manager at Allan Gray. He later became the founder and chair of Allan Gray in Australia. With a PhD in theoretical physics from Cambridge University, he maintained a life-long passionate interest in mathematics and mathematical problem solving. He passed away on 26 February 2015 after a short battle against cancer. 

Because of this connection, the organisers reached out to SU in 2021 and a compromise was found to allow SU (and other universities in a time zone away from Australia) to compete using the second paper.

Dr Dirk Basson, lecturer and coordinator of the Mathematics Olympiads in SU's Department of Mathematical Sciences, said this year the universities in the Western time zone will write two papers, as do the universities in the Eastern division, with one paper overlapping.

In 2021 engineering student Ralph McDougall earned third place in the Western division, while mathematics students Jean du Plessis and Adri Wessels, who entered as a pair, were placed joint fifth. Combined, these achievements placed SU third in the Western division of the competition. Ralph will represent SU at the South African Mathematics Foundation's (SAFM) annual awards ceremony on Saturday 15 October. The certificates and prize monies will be handed over by Mrs Corena Marais, wife of the late Simon Marais.