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Germany's mental calculator Jan van Koningsveld concentrating on his calculations
© dpa- Bildfunk
Brilliant minds: Calculating quicker than a calculator

July 07, 2008

Multiplying eight figure numbers, figuring out the root of a six figure number, or working out a week day from randomly selected data five centuries ago – no problem for the world’s best mental calculators who gathered in Leipzig from June 28 to July 1 to find out who is the very best.

Twenty-eight ‘mathletes’ from twelve countries gathered to compete in the third Mental Calculation World Cup at the University of Leipzig. The youngest was 11 year old Vinay Bharadwaj from India, who had qualified through wins in Indian mental arithmetic competitions. Topping the age spectrum was 68-year-old Wilhelm Bouman from the Netherlands. Out of 28 participants, eight were from India.

The World Cup contest took place on 1st July 2008, where each mental calculator had to solve tasks in different categories like addition of ten 10-digit numbers, multiplication, extracting the square root from a 6-digit number, calculating the day of the week and surprise tasks. All the competitions involved straight mental calculations without any aid. The competition was held as part of the ‘Summer of Science’ festival, the central event in the Year of Mathematics, announced by the German Ministry for Education and Research.

Alberto Coto of Spain was declared the World Champion 2008 as he narrowly edged out Koningsveld of Germany, who was runner-up.  Jorge Arturo Mendoza Huertas of Peru finished third. The champions for the four single categories were Jan van Koningsveld of Germany for Calendar Calculations and Square Roots and Alberto Coto of Spain for Addition and Multiplication.

As part of the entertainment surrounding the competition, there were many different events for the spectators as well. World Championship participant Arturo Huertas from Peru challenged the audience to solve calculations with a calculator quicker than he could in his head. The memory World Champion Dr. Gunther Karsten revealed how he is able to remember information reliably.

The Mental Calculation World Cup competition  was launched in 2004, after computer scientist Ralf Laue realised that there was no forum for mental calculators, people with exceptional mental arithmetic skills and decided to do something about it.



© Young Germany / German Information Centre New Delhi
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