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My name is Phoenix Kim, a rising junior with major in mathematics and an aspiring applied mathematician & algebraist. I wrote this email to seek your recommendation on great books for problem-solving skills (techniques, strategies, etc.) in the mathematical competition, specifically the Putnam Competition; I firmly decided to prepare myself in order to compete in the Putnam Competition. However, Putnam Competition will be my first participation in the mathematical competition as I was never involved in any form of mathematical competition.....So I am a quie rookie. I would like to pick up a book or two on the problem-solving in mathematics and use it (or them) in conjunction with the Putnam problems. I see a lot of people recommend following books: "How to Prove It" by G. Polya, "Problem-Solving Strategies" by Engel, "Problem-Solving Through Problems" by Larson, "Putnam and Beyond" by Andreescu, and "Art and Craft of Problem Solving" by Zeitz. However, I do not know which book should I start with since all of those books seem to cover similar materials.

Also what approach should I take in order to prepare for Putnam? Is my strategy of reading the problem-solving books and doing Putnam problems good approach? The thing is that I do not know quite a lot of mathematical topics since I just started to pursue a track in mathematics on the last semester. However, I have been studying the following books by my own: M. Artin's Algebra and Hoffman/Kunze's Linear Algebra. I hope those books are great for theoretical contents of Putnam.

Sincerely,

PK