1 Universidad de Guadalajara (MEXICO)
2 Colegio Internacional SEK Guadalajara (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 2069-2076
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Mathematical competitions are usually very exclusive events, not because they are closed to everyone participation, but because few people really enjoy them. They usually take the shape of an individual/group assessment, where each participant/group works silently in isolation till they complete the test and hand it to the supervisor. Once all have finished (or given up), their answers are marked and a winner is announced. It is only at this point that there may be some clapping, shouting and other noises.

Having being assigned the responsibility to organise such a kind of mathematical competition for a school, the authors thought it would be much fun if it were an open competition, much like a multiplayer Who Wants to be a Millionaire (, where each participant were assigned a networked computer to play the game, yet it were possible see the global status of the competition on a big screen, so that the crowd could participate too by cheering their favourite players. That is how Trivia Mathematica was born, as a tool to make this dream possible.

Developing this kind of tools poses interesting technical challenges, which partially explain why most available applications of the kind have practically no mathematical content: mathematical questions frecuently include mathematical notation, which is harder to produce, requires complex encoding and it is difficult to represent on screen; otherwise, mathematical questions frequently include graphics, or even animations. Common applications of the kind require their questions to be represented in one to three lines of plain text, while their choices are a only few characters each. Furthermore, they are closed, propietary applications whose question databases are protected and cannot be modified by users, so they are not customizable to the particular needs of a school's mathematical competition.

Trivia Mathematica is an open source, standard-based application for open mathematical competitions. It is implemented in Java and uses Remote Method Invocation (RMI) and HTTP to implement a client-server architecture. Questions are required to be encoded following IMS Question & Test Interoperatibility Specification, and they are rendered on screen using the MathAssessEngine ( It provides an administration panel for common operations on users, questions, categories, topics and competitions, and a player's graphical users interface inspired on the GameHouse Trivia Machine game (

The paper describes Trivia Mathematica design and implementation, scope, limitations and future work. It also includes first impressions from a try out in a mathematical competition for mathematical basic education.
mathematical competition, trivia game, qti.