If the day before two days after the day before tomorrow is Monday, what day is today?

This was just one of the questions that earned Rackham computer science doctoral candidate Andrew Nierman the “World’s Smartest Man Award,” announced Jan. 31. His feat was accomplished by winning the International High IQ Society’s online test.

“I decided to take part in the test because I wanted the ‘smartest person in the world’ plaque, that was being offered as part of the prize,” Nierman said.

Administered as an online exam with no time limit, the test took Nierman a few months to complete. He said he started in November and finished at the end of December.

“I stayed motivated through the test because of the competitive nature of the contest. The High IQ Society maintained a scoreboard with the current high score that had been submitted. I was just trying to beat the best scores up there,” Nierman said.

International IQ Society President Nathan Haselbauer said Nierman’s feat was especially impressive considering the difficult nature of the test.

“It’s called a power test because it is untimed, outside resources can be used and it is very difficult,” Haselbauer said. “There are three questions that have never been solved. One hundred and ten thousand people took the test since last January. Andrew got a 22 on the test out of 25. He solved two problems that had never been solved before. He was the only one to ever solve those questions.”

Haselbauer said the estimated score for a typical math professor would be 9 or 10 out of 25. Out of the 100,000 people who took the test, half didn’t get get even one question correct, he said.

“We tell people not even to attempt it unless their IQ is in the top 1 percent of the population,” Haselbauer said. “Most IQ tests are designed to pick out an average IQ of 100. When you get in the higher end it’s not as accurate. It’s like a bathroom scale going from 0-300 pounds. Putting a pencil on the scale would not give you an accurate weight; neither would a 300-pound woman be accurate on the scale. The more accurate ranges are in the mid-range.”

In comparison, this IQ test is created for extreme results. Haselbauer said he feels it is one of the hardest tests that has ever been written. Still, after Nierman acquired his prestigious title, most of the response from his colleagues was teasing, said electrical engineering and computer science Prof. Hosagrahar Jagadish.

“It’s a fun thing to talk about and not an award everyone knows about. A lot of Nierman’s friends have been teasing him about the award. Another faculty member put a note on my door that said ‘adviser to world’s smartest person,'” Jagadish said.

An example of the type of teasing that Nierman has had to face came from his colleague James Mickens, a Rackham student who offered a mocking response when asked about the award.

“He really touches the lives of everyone in the office,” he said sarcastically. “He’s just toiled in obscurity for such a long time, but now with this test it’s come out. The world can know what we’ve known for all this time.”

Nierman said the contest has put him in the national spotlight. “Solving the problems was the fun part,” he said. “Winning the award has been a bit painful, just due to all of the media attention and phone calls – each day my answering machine is full when I get home. Fortunately, I will be able to drift back into obscurity in a few weeks time.”

As a reward for doing so well on the test, Nierman was given a $500 prize, special plaque, merchandise and a membership in the International High IQ Society. The test can be taken at www.highiqsociety.org.

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