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Cornellians Emerge as National Champions in Mathematical Contest in Modeling

Sunday, September 16, 2012

From left to right: Dr. Ben Fusaro (Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Florida State University), Alvin Wijaya, Dennis Chua, Professor Paul Manthey Zorn (Professor of Mathematics at St. Olaf College, President of the MAA)

In the Spring of 2012, a team of three freshmen – comprising of Dennis Chua (ChemE ’14), Alvin Wijaya (ECE ’15), and Jessie Lin (ECE ’15) – represented Cornell in the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling (IMCM) 2012. This year, the IMCM attracted over 3600 registered teams from all around the globe.

The team’s task was to develop mathematical models to represent the leaf mass and characteristics of trees across the world. Using probabilistic and dynamic models based on established research in the field, they simulated the growth of trees and optimized leaf characteristics. The team emerged as national champions, finishing in front of teams from other US universities such as MIT, UCLA, and Harvey-Mudd. They were awarded the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Award, which is the award presented to the winning team representing the USA in this competition.

Over the summer, Dennis and Alvin represented Cornell to present the team’s winning project at the largest annual mathematics conference, MathFest 2012, hosted by the MAA at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin. They were interviewed by a renowned Mathematician, Dr. Frank Morgan, Atwell Professor of Mathematics at Williams College, and were subsequently featured in his blog entry about the MathFest 2012 in The Huffington Post.

The members of the team are actively pursuing their passion and talent in modeling through their respective research.


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