The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is an annual mathematics competition for undergraduate students in the United States and Canada. It awards a scholarship and cash prizes ranging from $250 to $2,500 for the top students and $5,000 to $25,000 for the top schools, plus one of the top five individual scorers (designated as Putnam Fellows) gets graduate tuition waived at Harvard, and the top 100 individual scorers have their names mentioned in the American Mathematical Monthly's October issue. It is widely considered to be the most prestigious university-level mathematics examination in the world.
The competition was founded in 1927 by Elizabeth Lowell Putnam in memory of her husband William Lowell Putnam. The exam has been offered annually since 1938 and is administered by the Mathematical Association of America.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the 81st Putnam Competition, originally scheduled for Fall 2020, has been postponed until Feb. 20, 2021. The competition will proceed in an unofficial mode, with no proctors, no prizes, no awards, and no national recognition of high-scoring individuals or teams. Students will administer the exam themselves via an online platform. The solution papers will be uploaded by participants for grading. Scores will be reported back privately to the individual participants and the local supervisor of each institution will receive a report of the scores of the students for that institution.
Students interested can now register on the official portal: https://artofproblemsolving.com/contests/putnam/student
More information is available on the official Putnam webpage: https://www.maa.org/math-competitions/putnam-competition
The Mathematics Department runs weekly practice sessions to prepare students for the competition. It is an occasion for any students interested in problem solving to meet and to work on problems not seen in more standard mathematics courses. It is also a good way to learn beautiful mathematical topics outside the regular curriculum. Note that you can attend the training sessions without writing the exam in December.