Problem of the Block

The problem of the block is a friendly contest open to students enrolled at Cornell College. Each block a new problem will be posted for students to tackle. Students will earn points for solutions and the student that earns the most points at the end of the year will earn a prize. Cornell alumni are encouraged to submit solutions (or problem ideas!), but the prizes will be awarded to students only.

Cornell students who submit solutions can earn culture points toward the math major.


  • Ideally, you will work independently. If you work with other people, they must be acknowledged in the solution you turn in.

  • You must turn in your solution for each block's problem to Prof. Bean before the first day of the next block. 

  • A winner for each block will be decided on the basis of the best solution submitted. If no best solution can be determined (i.e. there exist relatively identical solutions), the winner will be the student who submitted the first best solution.

  • Each submission will be given 3 points for a fully correct solution and 1 point for a partially correct solution. The winner of each problem will get a bonus of e points.

  • This is a friendly competition. Do not try to find the solution to a problem by looking it up in a book or by searching online. That goes against the spirit of the contest.

2017-2018 Top 5 Leaderboard (will be updated starting 3rd block)

Current Problem 

Past Problems

Turn in your solutions to Prof. Bean in 206E Law Hall or via email sbean(at)

Past Champions

  • 2014-2015: Paul Lambert
  • 2015-2016: Laura Wetzel
  • 2016-2017: Collin Smith