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ISI Interview Tips

Dwija Prasad De May 2013

Personal Question
1. What was your board score? 2. Any mathematical achievements? 3. Have you appeared for JEE Mains? 4. Have you applied to CMI? 5. Why is B-Stat/B-Math your rst preference? 6. Which question did you do wrong in the subjective? (Note that they will have your answer script in front of them ) 7. What is your favorite branch of mathematics?

Subject-Based Questions
Algebra 1. Solve cos x + sec x = x2013 +
1 x2013

2. Find all polynomials with rational roots with root



4 as a

3. Find all dierentiable functions f : R R satisfying f (xy ) = f (x) + f (y ) 4. Let f (x) = (x a1 )(x a2 )...(x a2n ). Is (f (x))2 + 1 reducible? Calculus 1. Find the number of solutions of ex = xn 2. What is the volume of rotation below the x-axis of the parabola y = 4 6x x2 3. Sketch the graph of y = sin 1
1 |x|

4. x1 = 1 2 ; xn+1 =

(1 xn ), n 1 . Find limn xn .

5. Suppose f is a continuous function on [a, ] and dierentiable on (a, ) and limx f (x) = f (a). Prove that c such that f (c) = 0. Combinatorics 1. Let there be n cubes of edge-length 1 through n respectively. They are to be arranged in a tower such that the cube immediately above k is at most k + 2. If T (n) be the number of dierent towers nd a recursion for T (n). 2. Given an 8 8 chessboard, show that it cannot be tiled by:

3. Find the number of ways of colouring a (i) cube (ii) tetrahedron if each face is coloured with a dierent colour. 4. Given 5 lattice points on the xy -plane, show that some line through these points passes through another lattice point. Generalize 5 for three dimensions Geometry 1. Let P be a point inside ABC such that P A = 3, P B = 4, P C = 5. How will you nd the side-length of the triangle? 2. Let 1 and 2 be two intersecting circles. Let a common tangent to these 2 touch 1 at A and 2 at B . Show that the common chord bisects AB (possibly when extended). 3. Consider a regular n-gon inscribed in a unit circle. What is the product of all the diagonals of the polygon? 4. Let P be any point outside an ellipse with focus F such that P is tangent to it at R and T . If RT meets the directrix at U nd SF U . Number Theory 1. Show that n + 1 consecutive composite numbers for all n. 2. Does there exist 2 irrational numbers a and b such that am = bn for all positive integers n ? 3. Call an integer square-full such that if a prime p|n p2 |n . Prove that there are innitely many pairs of consecutive square-full numbers. 4. Show that gcd(2a 1, 2b 1) = 2gcd(a,b) 1. Is the result true for lcm? 2

5. S (n) is the sum of digits function. (i) Does there exist n such that S (n) = 2012 ? (ii) Show that S (a)S (b) S (ab) (iii) Show that S (a + b) S (a + b) (iv) If the digits of n are in increasing order from left to right, nd S (9n)

1. Be polite and answer specic to question(not what you have made up and come) 2. Do not lie about your academic credentials(i.e answer to 1-5) 3. It is better not to include stu like moderator in AoPS in mathematical achievements, in fact do not mention AoPS at all. If at all some professor asks what was your source for Olympiad stu(nowadays they dont ask such questions but still ) say elder brother or something like that :) 4. While you are solving problems keep telling them about your progress if even you havent solved the problem completely, so that they can keep marking you and they understand there is a dierence between you and a student who couldnt do anything. 5. Keep your ears open; hints may ow in. It is essential to use the hints they give. They will give more marks if you solve a easier unknown problem with hints rather than a tougher, known problem instantly. (Also, if a problem happens to be known to you, you may blu that you are thinking so that they think you solved it on spot :)) 6. Special note for geometry-lovers: please brush up your coordinate geometry and complex numbers 7. If they do not ask you what is your favorite topic and start asking questions straightaway which you cannot answer, do not get tensed. You probably scored very high in Subjective and they are just checking if you are really good at everything 8. General tip true for all interviews youll ever give: Dont carry the success/fail (the latter more importantly) of the preceding question to next question. Keep your calm. They are not there to scare in fact just the opposite. Also, do not try too hard to nd what they asked whom; there is few/no chance of repetition. 9. Avoid using very non-trivial theorems.

Further Preparation
Firstly, if you are condent, NO NEED FOR FURTHER PREPARATION Know the proofs of theorems. Suddenly in the middle of the explanation of a problem, a professor may ask the proof of the result you are using Go through Excursion in Mathematics, Problem Solving Strategies, previous year question-papers of ISI Entrance and RMO Know graph sketching well. They may ask you to sketch a graph of something, a problem now only reserved for interviews rather than Subjective Papers