Mathematics Student Wins the Siemens-Westinghouse Competition
Michael Viscardi, a senior high school student who is home-schooled, has won the 2005-06 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology with a mathematics project dealing with the Dirichlet Problem. The results of the competition were announced on December 5, 2005. A project in Genomics won the team prize.
The Siemens Westinghouse Competition is a program of the Siemens Foundation and is administered by the College Board. The 2005-06 Finals were hosted by New York University, where the winners were announced. Two $100,000 prizes are given: one for an individual project, and one for a team project. Michael Viscardi won the prize for his project, On the Solution of the Dirichlet Problem with Rational Boundary Data. The team award went to Anne Lee and Albert Shieh, who developed an improved software package for analyzing genetic data; their project title was SNiPer: Improved SNP Genotype Calling for Affymetrix 10K GeneChip Microarray Data.
The Dirichlet Problem asks for a harmonic function on a domain R with prescribed values on the boundary of R. It was a recurring theme in 19th century mathematics, playing an important role in the development of potential theory and mathematical physics. The existence and nature of solutions depends, of course, both on the type of region and on the boundary conditions. Viscardi's work dealt with the case when the boundary values are rational functions.
Viscardi is home-schooled, but he has also had the opportunity to take courses at the University of California in San Diego. For his project, he was mentored by Peter Ebenfelt of UCSD. Steven Krantz of Washington University in St. Louis was one of the judges. He is quoted by the Siemens-Westinghouse press release: “Mr. Viscardi dazzled us with his creative use of the mathematical language. His research is profound, substantial and complete, with potentially important practical applications in heat flow, magnetism, electrodynamics and other branches of physics.”
In addition to being a talented young mathematician, Viscardi is also an accomplished pianist and violinist, as well as a composer. He is concertmaster of the San Diego Youth Symphony and San Diego Youth Symphony Phil-harmonia, as well as first violinist of the San Diego Youth Symphony String Quartet. He plans to study mathematics and music in college.