Detailed Information on the KöMaL Archives
You can find the KöMaL Archives at
http://www.sulinet.hu/komal/aindex.html (the Archives are currently
not available).
The archives of the High School Mathematics and
Physics Journal (also known as KöMaL, a popular abbreviation of the
Hungarian name Középiskolai Matematikai és Fizikai Lapok) are an
extraordinary collection of problems and articles, spanning more than
a century and representing a significant factor in the history of
Hungarian mathematics and physics. Mathematics at the start and later
extended to physics, this highly professional monthly journal has
survived two world wars and several political changes, and it
established a worldwide reputation for Hungarian mathematics and
sciences.
The High School Mathematics Journal was founded in
1894 by Dániel Arany, a teacher of the science high school in the city
of Győr. He edited the journal until 1896 when László Rátz, a
prominent teacher of the Fasori Lutheran High School took it over from
him and continued till 1914. In addition to the articles aiming at
students who were seriously interested in mathematics, each issue
contained problems for the reader to solve and submit the following
month. Initially, the numbered “problems”
(“Feladat” in Hungarian) were adressed to 11^{th}
and 12^{th}grade students, i. e. 17 to 18yearolds. There
were 2415 “problems” during the period of December 1893 to
April 1914. The “excercises” (“Gyakorlat” in
Hungarian) for 15 to 16yearolds appeared in January 1900, numbered 1
to 1390. The “descriptive geometry problems” were numbered
separately, with Roman numerals.
The sample solutions printed in the journal were
based on students’ papers. The names of the best problem solvers
were published, the results were totalled up at the end of the scool
year and prizes were given to the winners. With the assistance of
teachers the competition of the Journal went nationwide. During the
first world war and for several years after the war the publication of
the journal was interrupted, as people had other things to worry
about. In 1925 at last, another teacher, Andor Faragó decided that the
mathematics journal was worth starting again. Physics was given a
greater emphasis than before, and the name was changed to High School
Mathematics and Physics Journal. The numbering of problems, excercises
and descriptive geometry problems started all over. This second series
of the journal lasted till 1938 when the second world war began, and,
unfortunately, Andor Faragó was among the victims. The war ended in
1945, and in 1946 a mathematics teacher in the city of Szeged,
dr. Paula Soós launched the mimeographed Szeged Pages that she
distributed herself with the help of a young colleague.The young
teacher, János Surányi had been a regular solver of KöMaL problems in
his high school years. The High School Mathematics Journal was revived
again from the Szeged Pages and János Surányi became the first editor
of the new series. The journal was published by the János Bolyai
Mathematical Society and the publication was financed by the Ministry
of Education. The numbering of the “problems” started over
again in 1946 and the “excercises” for 15 to 16yearsolds
were also restarted in 1952. In 1959, a physics column was added,
edited by the Roland Eötvös Physical Society. The traditional points
competition continued. A new competition was called every school year,
the best solutions submitted by students were published, as well as
the results of the competition and the photos of the best solvers.
The short name KöMaL first became popular in the
1980s and this abbreviation renained in use even when the name was
changed again to High Sccool Mathematics and Physics Journal
(Középiskolai Matematikai és Fizikai Lapok) in 1992. The joint
publication by the János Bolyai Mathematical Socety and the Roland
Eötvös Physical Society is provided financial support by the Ministry
and various foundations and companies.
As the journal was started three times, its history
consists of three series referred to the Rátz (Arany) series, the
Faragó series and the New series. In each series the numbering of the
volumes and of the problems was started over. Before the New series a
new volume always began with the school year in September and in most
cases ended in June. The volumes were divided into two sections each
but this division does not show up in the archives. The first complete
volume of the New series is that of 1951. From that volume onwards the
volumes have been organized by calendar years, from January to
December. Between 1960 and 1983, volumes were divided again into two
sections that is why pages were numbered 1 to 240 from January to May
and 1 to 240 again from September to December. Since 1984 pages have
been numbered continuosly from January to December. In 1995 the
tradition of the double issue in November was discontinued. Now there
are only 9 numbers a year, not 10, but the length of each issue has
grown from 48 to 64 pages. The organization of the competition still
follows the school year. For more than fifty years now there have been
a new issue every month from September to May with problems set in
different categories and one month provided for submitting the
solutions.
It is possible to search the archives by the number
of the problem, but the same number, for the above reasons may belong
to as many as three problems in three diferent series. It is also
hapeened a couple of times, that the editors gave the same number to
two different problems or skipped a few numbers by accident.
Starting with 1968, a letter code was added to the
numbers of the problems of various categories: Mathematics
“excercises” were marked by Gy (short for
“gyakorlat”) in front of the number, and
“problems” were marked by F (for “feladat”).
Gy.1210 and F.1617 were the first to carry a letter code. Between 1973
and 1984 the journal also published problems marked with P. These
were more involved problems and their solutions did not count in the
points competition. as there were very few students who sent in
solutions to these problems, the publication of the problems P stopped
in 1984. They were replaced by the excercises marked with C, initially
addressed to students of secondary technical schools. However, it
turned out that these easier excercises C were also popular with some
high school students, as their solution did not require more knowledge
than that of the standard high school material. Between 1981 and 1987
the KöMaL also contained computer problems marked with Sz and easier
excercises Szk. This column was very popular at the beginning but as
the extremely rapid development of technology became harder and harder
to follow in teaching, the editors decided to discontinue the computer
column. In 1992 the physics problems were also given a letter
code. The numbering went on continously, but problems for 17 to
18yearolds were marked with FF and those for 15 to 16yearolds were
marked with FGy. In 1993 the editors ventured again to a series of
harder problems but this time a separate points competition was
called. The hard problems were marked with N (for “nehéz”,
the Hungarian for hard). They became more and morepopular and by the
end of the 1990s both the easy excercises C and the hard problems N
had an established circle of solvers.
As next to the traditional fouryear high school
curriculum, there appeared six and eightyear curricula, and the
syllabi of secondary technical schools kept changing, too, the
traditional division of students into age groups seemed more and more
impractical. Some students were taught a particular chapter of the
syllabus at the age of 15 while others learnt the same material at the
age of 17. It made no sense any more to address a problem to those
over 16 or under 16 only. The rules of submitting problems were
changed, first in physics then in mathematics. Any student may solve
any problem now, but one does not need to solve all problems to be
successful in the competition. In physics only the best 5 of the
submitted solutions while in mathematics the best 6 solutions
(i.e. the 6 with the highest scores) count in the competition. The
letter codes were also changed at the millenium: in mathematics N
became A, Gy and F together became B. The notation C survived. In
physics the measurement task of the month is now marked with M and all
theoretical problems are marked with P.
To celebrate the centenary of the founding of the
journal the December issue of 1993 contains articles commemorating the
events of the hundred years, as well as articles about various
interesting chapters of the history of mathematics and physics in
Hungary. Page 496 of that issue features a table of the most important
dates in the history of the High School Mathematics and Physics
Journal. A few more articles, left out of the December issue for lack
of space appeared in April 1994. Those interested in the past of the
journal look up the April issue., too.
In July 1994 the centennial issue was also published
in English for interested forigners. In August 1996 another special
issue came out in English, in honour of the International Youth
Conference of Mathematics organized in Miskoc, Hungary. The third
English publication associated with the journal is the book called C2K
(Century 2 of KöMaL), a selection of problems and articles of KöMaL,
dating from the period 1994 to 1997. The mathematics and physics
problems of the (Hungarian) KöMaL have been regularly translated into
other languages for several decades. These translations always appear
on the pages following the new problems (mathematics and physics
separately). Different times and different editors over decades
brought various languages: French at the beginning, then English,
Russian, Esperanto and German versions followed. English translations
number the highest, these can also be found in the electronic
archives. A part of the problems and the titles of a part of the
articles can be searched fully in Hungarian or in English, whereas the
rest of the more than thirtyfive thosand pages of the archives can be
searched by date, by topic and by names of authors and problem
solvers. In the future the database will gradually expand to include ,
in Hungarian and in English , all the problems ever published in the
KöMaL. Full search will be available in the entire text of the
journal, from the 1990s onwards.
In addition to problems and articles the KöMaL also
provides a regular account of all the national and international
competitions that play an important role in Hungarian mathematics and
physics teaching. Some of these competition problems also featured in
KöMaL’s points competition, but in most cases the places, times,
results as wellas the problems themselves are found in the reports
written on the mathematics, physics and (in recent years) computer
science competitions and on complex competitions involving more than
one subject.
One of the most important national competitions in
Hungary is the national mathematics competition fonded by the
Mathematical and Physical Society in 1894 (a lucky coincidence with
the start of the Journal). The competition was organized every autumn
for high school graduate of that year, with three problems to
solve. Between 1894 and 1913 there were regular reports in the journal
that introduced the winners; the problems and the solutions that were
publshed after the problems in a later issue. One can also find
regular reports on the competitions between 1824 and 1838. It is in
1925 that the competition of the Society is called “Loránd Eötvös
Mathematics Competition”. In the meantime the physics counterpart
of the mathematics competition was founded, too. Initially the
physics competition also bore the name of Eötvös, then from 1926 to
1939 it was renamed after the priest teacher Iréneus Károly. After the
World War II in 1947 the mathematics competition was restarted by the
name of János Bolyai Competition. Finally in 1949 it was giveb the
name of József Kürschák, the university professor who had previously
been an enthusiastic organizer of the competition. Ever since, the
High School Mathemarics Fournal published regular reports on the
Kürschák competitions. In the autumn of 1956 the competition was
cancelled because of the revolution but since the following year it
has taken place every autumn. It is open to younger students, too, not
only highschool graduates of the current year. Since 1952 the
physics competition has borne the name of Baron Lorand Eötvös, and
since its founding in 1959, the physics column of the journal features
regular reports on the Loránd Eötvös physics competitions . In the
archives the competition reports appear among the articles but the
problems of the Kürschák competitions as well as their English
translations can also be found among the mathematics problems.
It was in 1923 that the first National Competition
for Secondary School Students was organized in mathematics for
students in the final years of high school. The journal published
reports on these competitions from 1924 to 1938. Starting with 1927,
the problems of physiics competitions also appeared regularly. In 1947
the numbering of these spring competitions was started all over.In
1952 the high school competition was named after Mátyáa Rákosi, the
famousinfamous political leader of those times. These competitions
are now considered the precusors of the present National Competition
for Secondary School Students, most often referred to by the
abbreviation OKTV (Országos Középiskolai Tanulmányi Verseny).
In the archives the problems of the OKTV are found in
the reports, among the articles:one needs to search for the topic of
the OKTV. In some years, when solutions of the problems were also
published in the jornal, the competition problems also appear in the
problems section of the archives. Reports on the physics OKTV have
been published in the journal since 1959.
In 1950 a new mathematics competition was launched
for 15 to 16yearolds as the competition of Középiskolai Matematikai
Lapok. That is what we now consider the first Dániel Arany
Competition. It has been organized annually ever since, and published
in the journal. In the years when the solutions were also published,
the Dániel Arany problems appear in the problems section of the
archives, too.
The KöMaL has featured many other competitions over
the years, including reports on the annual points competitions of
KöMaL. The reports on the International Mathematical Olympiads
published since 1959and on the Physics Olympiads since for a few years
later are of exceptional importance as the reader is offered detailed
and commented solutions to the problems of the most prominent
competition of the world.. The problems of the mathematical olympiads
appear in English, too.
During the next few years we are planning further
development in the KöMaL archives, based on its current database, as
well as continual maintenance of the existing structzre. Our goal is
that the greatest possible part of the more than one hundred years of
material should be available in English translation. we hope that
having read the problem in English, the reader will be able to get an
idea from the Hungarian solution. Translating the whole KöMaL into
English would probably too big a task for us. The KöMaL archives would
be impossible without the photos of the problem solvers. One of out
short term goals is to make this gallery of faces as complete as
possible, in the best possible quality.As further developement it
would be a good idea to provide illustrated biographies of past
students who started their careers as problem solvers of the KöMaL and
became famous scholars or teachers. It would be also worth following
particular area of mathematics or physics has developed since then. As
an apect of the history of Hungarian mathematics it would be
interesting to compile all problems of all competitions of the
twentieth century that the journal has reported on.
If you find an error in the KöMaL archives or you
have any further questions or suggestions please write to the editors
of KöMaL at Pázmány Péter sétány 1/A, room 5/106. Budapest, Hungary,
H1117 or send an email to szerk@komal.hu.
