Infinity 2019
11-12th January 2019
10:00 AM
Century Bhavan

Infinity is an annual math championship organised by Aditya Birla World Academy, in association with BITS Pilani, inviting students not only from all across India but even overseas. This intensely enigmatic competition has been running its course since 2014, having successfully conducted it every year since. Mr. Prodipta Hore, Head of Faculty of Mathematics at the school, proposed the idea of a large-scale Mathematics competition which would foster the love for the subject and bring out its engaging nature. 

They aimed to develop the capacity and thinking skills of students, whose value far transcends mathematics, constitute the most effective way of discovering and nurturing mathematical talent, and to help students combat the prevalent false image of math held by a lot of students, as a rather difficult or tedious subject. The great philosopher Aristotle once said, “The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.” It is this same sentiment that resonates with the philosophy behind Infinity. The participation has grown exponentially over the years, from only Mumbai-based schools participating in the first year to hosting students from Dubai and Singapore in 2019! 

This year, Infinity took place on the 11th and 12th of January, at the Birla Aurora Century Bhavan, with over 120 participants from over 33 schools. Guest of honour for the championship was Dr. James Tanton , mathematician at large from Mathematical Association of America, who attended the opening ceremony and delivered an intellectually-stimulating talk, that brought about debate and discussion amongst students and teachers in the audience. Before embarking on his gambit to convince the young learners in the audience that 1 equals to 2, Dr. Tanton taught us the International Math Salute, which made us appreciate his fun-filled approach to learning. Additionally, Dr. Tanton even conducted a session with the faculty members proving the Fixed Point theorem and explored fundamental mathematical laws through activities. This was the third consecutive year that we had Dr. Tanton with us, to guide us through the process, and we were incredibly appreciative of him and extremely glad to have him back to impart his knowledge and experience on a whole new set of students and teachers alike.

The contestants were nervous but excited for the competition that awaited them, filled with anticipation, adrenaline and anxiety. It was the first time attending an event of this sort for many of them, but that didn’t stop them from having high hopes and giving it all they had. 

“We’re expecting the rounds to be challenging, but that’s what we came here for.” - Tushani, from Mahindra United World College.

The first individual round, rightly named ‘Clash of Mathematicians’, was headed by Ms. Charusheela Deo. It allowed students from all schools to compete in solitary, finessing their problem-solving skills in the process of working out answers to 30 of the most rigorous sums that our current education systems have to offer. The round lasted for an hour and a half, where there was a wide range of topics covered, from calculus and trigonometry to permutations and combinations. The two top scorers will be awarded - “Mathematician of the Year (2019)”. It was the perfect, logical warm-up for their brains, in order to get prepared for the next, more severe challenges.

Next, we had the ‘Math Challengers’ team event, headed by Ms. Neelam Mishra. The representatives of the participating schools put their heads together to solve a series of 10 challenging questions consisting of a vast variety of topics such as numbers, algebra, calculus and geometry. The teams were given 90 minutes to collaborate and solve the given questions. This round allowed them to enhance their team-building skills and made them more open-minded to ideas from other group members, helping them understand the same topic from various perspectives.

After the focussed team round, it was important to relieve some of the stress that the students might have been going through and give them a chance to socialise and get to know their peers from other schools; it was time for the Icebreaker, headed by Ms. Aparna Chatterjee. After learning about the brief history of magic squares, the students were randomly allocated to be a part of fifteen groups, each group containing kids from different schools, who were then challenged to make a 4 by 4 magic square by amalgamating their intellect, and bonding in the process.

As the first day of the event approached its end, students were asked to put on their creative hats to participate in the poster-making competition, ‘Bulb Your Ideas’. The buddy teams were given 90 minutes to solve divergent, limited data problems and present them in a hand-made poster. Combining their artistic abilities with the materials provided, in the process of formulating answers to the three mathematical problems given.  

It was a successful first day, and not only did the participants learn from the events, but there was also an immense take-back for the students of Aditya Birla World Academy, who helped organise and run this event along with their teachers. The day was filled with enthusiasm, competitive spirit and thirst for victory, which kept all of our energy at an all-time high and made this competition memorable. As the participants left with their goodie-filled jute bags, they were filled with a sense of gratification and satisfaction. 

On the following day, the participants returned, proudly showcasing their bright yellow Infinity shirts, ready for another day of puzzling competitiveness. Our Chief Guest Dr. Souvik Bhattacharyya, the Vice Chancellor of Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani,  was present on the second and delivered a motivational and encouraging speech to the audience, layered with anecdotes from his past. It was inspiring for the students to see someone with his past succeeding so brilliantly in his life. 

The first round of the day was the anticipated relay round, ‘Pass The Baton’ where the students had to work together to answer their interlinked questions within a time limit of 5 minutes to gain 20 points and 8 minutes to gain 15 points. As the post-its swished across the air a sense of tension filled the room. 

The top five teams from the ‘Bulb Your Ideas’ round were selected to present their posters followed by a session of question and answer with the judges, Mr. Sumit Chowdhury, CEO of Gaia Smart Cities, and Mr. Rahul Singh, CIO of Tata Mutual Funds. The participants explained the intentions behind their depictions in an engaging and exuberant manner - the students from Mahindra United World College, Pune even put on a skit, pretending to be the characters from their illustrations. 

The next round was conducted by Dr. James Tanton in the form of a final math quiz, playfully named ‘Quizzitch’ after everyone’s favourite sport. The top five teams across all rounds were called up to the challenge, to compete in a round so intellectually straining, that it could decide the fate of whom the final trophy would go to. As the cacophony of the buzzer resonated through the walls of the auditorium, it was time for even the final round to come to a close.

Alas, like all good things, even Infinity had to come to an end; it was a bittersweet moment. Dr. James Tanton, Dr. Souvik Bhattacharyya and Mrs. Radhika Sinha awarded the deserving winners of the championship. Even though the event came to an end, the participants had cherished memories to last a lifetime. Here’s to another year of gruelling math sums, painstakingly large group photographs and Dr. Tanton coming up with more ways to compensate for filler time. 

Congratulations to all the participants, team leaders, proctors, support staff and organising committee for making Infinity 2019 a huge success!  A special congratulations to Navarachna School, Sama, Vadodara for winning the overall math championship trophy. This event could not have been possible without our Chairperson Mrs. Neerja Birla, Principal Mrs. Radhika Sinha, CEO Mrs. Surabhi Goel, Head of Department Mr. Prodipta Hore, and the rest of the Aditya Birla World Academy math department. 

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