A team of math students from Brigham Young University placed 22nd in the nation during the Math Association of America's 1990 Putnam Mathematical Competition.

The BYU undergraduates competed against students from 380 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.BYU students recognized for their performance included: Matthew Dean, a senior from Brisbane, Australia; Samuel Ferguson, a senior from Laurel, Md.; and Douglas Davidson, a sophomore from Aberdeen, Idaho.

"We have some of the most able students in the country here," said Vencil Skarda, an associate professor of mathematics who directed the testing at BYU.

The six-hour test contains 12 problems that are "far beyond what we would ordinarily expect in class work," Skarda said.

A cash award is given to the top several schools, and the top 500 students' names are sent to graduate schools throughout the nation. That becomes a recruiting list for graduate programs, Skarda said.

The Putnam Mathematical Competition began around 1920 as a result of an article in the Harvard Alumni magazine. William L. Putnam, the author, suggested that schools should have academic competition on the same basis as athletic competition.

BYU placed 11th nationally in 1980 and 13th in 1984.