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Journal Article

Killer Problems

Tanya Khovanova and Alexey Radul
The American Mathematical Monthly
Vol. 119, No. 10 (December 2012), pp. 815-823
DOI: 10.4169/amer.math.monthly.119.10.815
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Page Count: 9
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Killer Problems
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Abstract This is a special collection of problems that were given to select applicants during oral entrance exams to the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics of Moscow State University. These problems were designed to prevent Jewish candidates and other “undesirables” from getting a passing grade, thus preventing them from studying at MSU. Among problems that were used by the department to blackball unwanted candidate students, these problems are distinguished by having a simple solution that is usually difficult to find. Using some problems with a simple solution protected the administration from extra complaints and appeals. This collection, therefore, has mathematical as well as historical value.

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