New Faculty, Promotions
Math Modeling Contest
The modeling contest teams, with Jim Morrow
Two groups of students in the UW Department of Mathematics were declared Outstanding Winners in the international Mathematical Contest in Modeling this spring, and they also won prizes awarded by the societies involved in the judging. It's only the third year in which the UW has participated in this contest, which is sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP). Last year, one of the teams won the SIAM prize. This year one team won the INFORMS Prize and another team won the MAA Prize. The winning team members are Mark Blunk, Samuel Coskey, Luke Winstrom (INFORMS Prize); and Ernie Esser, Jeff Giansiracusa, and Simon Pai (MAA Prize). All were seniors except for Pai, who was a sophomore. (Esser and Giansiracusa were also on the winning team in 2002, along with Ryan Card; Blunk and Coskey were on a team last year with Erik Curre, and their solution received a meritorious distinction.) This is the first time in the 19-year history of the competition that one university has had teams win prizes for both problems that comprise the contest. Their stunning success attracted a lot of attention, including an editorial in the Seattle Times - probably the first time the Math Department has been the subject of an editorial.
The contest began on February 6, when officials posted two problems on the COMAP website. The teams had until February 10 to select one and devise a solution. Competitors could access sources on the web or in the library, but could not consult with anyone outside the team. The two UW teams were in different rooms and had no contact with one another, so they considered the problems separately. By chance each selected a different problem.
The problem solved by Blunk, Coskey, and Winstrom was to find a method of targeting a tumor in brain tissue for radiation treatment. The problem solved by Esser, Giansiracusa and Pai involved a proposed movie stunt: they had to figure out how to use cardboard boxes to cushion the crash landing of a stunt motorcyclist who jumps over an elephant.
Jeff and Luke majored in Math and Physics; Sam and Simon were in Computer Science and Math; Ernie majored in Math and ACMS and Italian; Mark was a Math major. Jeff is currently a grad student at Oxford, Luke is a grad student at UC Santa Cruz, Sam is a grad student at Rutgers, and Mark and Ernie are grad students at UCLA. Simon is a junior here at the UW.
Information about the competition, including the problems contestants attempted to solve and overall results, can be found here - follow the link ``Previous Contests.'' Information on the local teams, including the winning papers, is available. This site also has links to news articles.