This is the eighth of the series.
As you might have noticed, I have been writing about the results of the Philippine teams to the recently concluded 42nd International Physics Olympiad and the 52nd International Mathematical Olympiad. Both campaigns have been relatively successful with the Math team getting the most number of medals since its participation in the IMO.
Every contestant is ranked based on the scores he/she got and gets a medal regardless of the cumulative performance of one’s country. This makes these competitions individual efforts. But one might ask, “How do we measure with respect to our neighbors?”
Why do I think that this is a relevant question? I’d like to think that it tells us what we can still achieve. I am an optimist. Honestly, we are not as bad when it comes to the world ranking. We are actually pretty good considering that we are always faced with plenty of challenges. And our kids are always 1-2 years younger than most of the participants. It just that compared to our neighbors, we are almost always at the bottom. Why? Because the countries in our region are at the top half of the ranking if not the best among all the countries.
International Mathematical Olympiad. This plot is the ranking of the Philippines side by side with our neighbors. Thailand really caught up with the leaders Taiwan and China starting from 2005.
International Physics Olympiad. The plot below is the efficiency of the country’s participation from the 27th – 36th (1996-2005) IPhO. Efficiency of participation is defined as sum of the weighted awards with respect to the maximum number of participants each country can send. Probably easier understood with the formula: (# of gold medals + # of silver medals*0.75 + # of Bronze medals *0.35 + # of Honorable mentions*0.25)/ possible number of participants. Some of our neighbors are not present because they did not participate more than 5 times during the period considered.
If we consider the last decade’s participation of the Philippines, our efficiency would be 10.5. But Indonesia’s and Thailand’s would probably be higher. There is also a rule change on medal allocation in 2002 and 2009 that made an artificial increase in the efficiency but the ranking would probably be still the same at least for the Asian region.
What is our ranking in the last IPhO in Thailand?
Based on the number of medals and awards here is the ranking with respect to 86 participating countries:
*1-4, 8-10,17-19, 20-21, 44-51 ranking would mean that there are countries which got the same number of medals and awards.
We are actually in good company. The Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, and Austria have the same rank as we have.
The more important question would be, “how are we going to translate these medals to improving science in the country?”
I would probably need to write another entry about the participation of the Philippines in international science competitions. I hope to 1) dispel the notion that these competitions do not help the country produce better scientists; 2) weigh which international competitions are worth our money and energy; and 3) appeal for support. So, until next time. If I do find the time.
 International Mathematical Olympiad website: http://official.imo2011.nl/results.aspx
 International Physics Olympiad website: http://ipho.phy.ntnu.edu.tw/statictics.pdf
 Dr. Jose Perico Esguerra, Personal communications.