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Rensselaer Undergraduate Team Selected to Receive 2005 SIAM Award for Mathematical Modeling Contest

April 19, 2005

Rensselaer Undergraduate Team Selected to Receive 2005 SIAM Award for Mathematical Modeling Contest

Troy, N.Y. — A Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute undergraduate team has been selected to receive the 2005 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Award in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling, besting competitors from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and others.

Rensselaer team members Meral Reyhan, a senior with a dual major in physics and mathematics, and John Evans, a junior majoring in applied mathematics, competed in the 21st annual Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) with 663 other teams representing academic institutions from 10 countries. The MCM contest is administered by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications.

In the MCM contest, competing teams have four days to solve one of two challenging problems by using mathematical tools. Reyhan and Evans tackled a problem requiring teams to propose a model to help determine the optimal number of tollbooths in a barrier toll plaza, “Problem B” in the contest. Their solution paper is titled “A Quasi-Sequential Cellular Automaton Approach to Traffic Modeling.” Reyhan and Evans said the most creative part of their model was the inclusion of psychological factors when considering how motorists react in certain situations, in addition to actual traffic rules.

The Rensselaer team was designated as “outstanding” in the Problem B category, a designation shared by only seven other teams representing Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, University of California, Berkeley (2 teams), and University of Colorado.

Each year SIAM officials select one team from each problem group to honor for their winning solution. The Rensselaer team was selected to receive the 2005 SIAM Award in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling for Problem B.

“We are proud of Meral Reyhan and John Evans for their ability to perform at this level as undergraduates,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Rensselaer provost. “Their accomplishment is a testament to an exceptional mathematical sciences department at Rensselaer that prepares our students to creatively apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to solve complex, realistic problems.”

“To succeed in this contest, the team must effectively work together to research, model, and present a creative and coherent solution by connecting mathematical analysis to a real problem,” said Peter Kramer, assistant professor of mathematics at Rensselaer and faculty adviser for the MCM contest. “Meral and John demonstrated their ability to combine teamwork with creativity and knowledge to achieve this impressive honor.”

Rensselaer teams compete in the MCM contest each year. This year’s contest is the first time a Rensselaer team has been selected to receive the SIAM Award for its mathematical solution.

Reyhan and Evans have been invited to present their winning solution at the SIAM Annual Meeting to be held July 11-15 in New Orleans, where they will each receive a cash prize of $300 and be recognized at an awards luncheon. Their solution paper will also be published with commentary from judges of the contest in an upcoming issue of The UMAP Journal, a journal for undergraduate applied mathematic teaching modules.

About the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is an organization founded in 1952 that supports and encourages the important role that applied mathematics and computational science play in advancing science and technology. Along with publishing top-rated journals, books, and a monthly periodical, SIAM News, SIAM holds about 12 conferences per year. There are currently 30 SIAM Student Chapters, 15 SIAM Activity Groups, and more than 10,000 individual and institutional members worldwide.

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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,600 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.