December 13, 2010
Four mathematics-based research projects—three in tandem and one solo—comprised one-third of this year's finalists in the 12th annual Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Results were announced on December 6, 2010, at George Washington University.
Carmel High School students Youkow Homma and Lyndon Ji collaborated with Jeffrey Shen (Park Tudor School) to win a second-place silver medal and $50,000 in scholarships for their project, "A Study of Nearest Neighbor Distances on a Circle: Multidimensional Case." Investigating a fundamental model in quantum mechanics with number theory, they extended some classical results, including that of a theorem by mathematical physicist Freeman Dyson. Collecting evidence in support of their case, the students also formulated a conjecture on the behavior of a quantum harmonic oscillator.
James Pinkerton and Rafael Setra (Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland) took third place in the team competition with their project, "The Duplicator-Spoiler Game for an Ordinal Number of Turns," earning $40,000 in scholarships. Expanding a game-theoretic interpretation of descriptive logic that dates back to the 1960s, the math duo offered potential applications in graph theory and to resource allocations in the design of search algorithms.
Sitan Chen (Northview High School, in Johns Creek, Georgia) and Tianqi Wu (Parkview High School, in Lilburn, Georgia) won 5th place and $20,000 for their project "Cellular Automata to More Efficiently Compute the Collatz Map." The team's exploration of the Collatz Conjuncture suggests applications that might delineate flaws in the security of Internet-based financial transactions. It could also provide solutions to problems in number theory, computer algorithm design, and computational theory.
In the individual category, well-know math whiz Allen Yuan (Detroit Country Day School) took fourth place—and a $30,000 scholarship—for his project, "Linearly Many Faults in (n,k)-Star Graphs." Addressing the issue of keeping a network robust, Yuan showed that if a particular network had several of its sites knocked out, it would, nonetheless, undergo only minimal damage.
Billed as a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, the Siemens Competition recognizes the nation's brightest mathematics and science students. The College Board administers the annual contest.
The first-place $100,000 scholarship was won by Benjamin Clark (Millersville, Pennsylvania) for his research into how stars are formed.
"These students inspire us all with their passion and commitment to serious scientific research," said Thomas McCausland, chairman of the Siemens Foundation. "As America focuses on reinvigorating math and science education, they remind us of what is possible when young people are challenged to do science at the highest level."
Source: Siemens Foundation