For the first time in the 20-year history of the International Mathematics Competition, an Israeli team won first place.

Held in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, from July 29 to August 4, the competition pitted 73 teams of university students from around the world against each other to solve problems in algebra, real and complex analysis, geometry and combinatorics (a branch of mathematics concerning finite discrete structures).

The working language was English, as the competition is organized by the University College London and American University in Bulgaria.

Israel’s team of six earned the gold medal, followed by silver medalists from Budapest and bronze medalists from Moscow University. Their coach, Lev Radzivilovsky, is an algorithm developer.

Though the competition is geared to students who have finished at least one year of college-level studies, half of the Israeli delegation had only just finished their senior year of high school. Yet almost all were veterans of previous international math Olympiads.

The winners were Tel Aviv University students Yoav Krauz, Tom Kalvari, Omri Nissan Solan and Amotz Oppenheim; and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology students Nitzan Tur and Guy Raveh. At last year’s competition, Solan won an individual gold medal, while Tur, Kalvari and Oppenheim won individual silver medals and Krauz won a bronze.

“You brought great honor to the State of Israel in general and academia in particular,” said Education Minister Shai Piron. “Human capital is our comparative advantage over other countries and you are proof that Israel will continue to lead the forefront of technology in the coming years.”

Teams from Israel won silver medals in 1995 and 1996, and a bronze in 1994, the first year the competition took place.