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Chinese teenager emerges as ‘dark horse,’ defeats AI and elite students in Math contest

A 17-year-old fashion design student from China has stunned the nation by excelling in the Alibaba Global Math Competition, surpassing participants from top universities like MIT, Stanford, and Princeton, as well as artificial intelligence teams.

Jiang Ping, from a vocational school in Jiangsu province, secured 12th place in the qualifying round, earning her a spot among the 801 global finalists. The qualifying round, which lasted 48 hours and featured multiple-choice and essay-length questions, concluded last Saturday. Despite the participation of AI teams, none made it to the finals, as confirmed by the organizers on the Chinese social media platform Weixin.

Jiang’s achievement has garnered widespread admiration and support across China. A hashtag celebrating her success amassed 17 million views by Saturday, with many praising her as an unexpected victor from a humble academic background. Vocational schools in China are generally not known for their academic rigor, making Jiang’s accomplishments even more remarkable.

Several Chinese universities have also acknowledged her success on social media. “Kudos to Jiang Ping! Anyone with a dream is amazing!” posted Zhejiang University on Weibo.

In interviews, Jiang expressed her love for mathematics, describing it as a hobby that fuels her curiosity. She credited her teacher, Wang Runqiu, who also participated and ranked 125th, for encouraging her to join the competition. Jiang’s win has drawn so much attention that supporters have visited her parents’ home with gifts, and local shopping malls have displayed her pictures in recognition.

Jiang, who initially pursued fashion design, plans to study at a good university. “If studying fashion design is my plan A, then exploring the world of math is my plan B,” she said. The final results of the competition, set to be announced in August, promise to further highlight her extraordinary talent, with winners receiving up to $30,000 in prize money.

Jiang’s story underscores the potential of young talents who pursue their interests with dedication and enthusiasm, proving that passion and perseverance can lead to exceptional achievements.


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