Mathematics Departmental News for 1998

Aaron Archer ’98 Takes Second Place in Nationwide Morgan Prize! (12/98)

Aaron Archer ’98 was awarded second place for the 1998 Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize. This nationwide award is given to an undergraduate with outstanding research accomplishments in the mathematical sciences. The prize is offered by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the American Mathematical Society, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Archer’s award was based on the strength of research papers he wrote while a student at HMC. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Cornell University.

ODE Architect named One of “The Year’s Nine Best Digital Projects on the Planet” by NewMedia Magazine

The ODE Architect CD-ROM has been named one of “The Nine Best Digital Projects on the Planet” by NewMedia magazine in its December, 1998, issue. ODE Architect was one of 1,080 entries in 40 categories submitted to the New Media INVISION ’98 Awards and one of only nine given an Award of Excellence. ODE Architect also won a gold medal in the category of Higher Education.

More details are available, including images of the NewMedia article and an accompanying Forbes article.

Andrew “Rif” Hutchings ’98 wins Second Prize in National Problem-Solving Competition (12/98)

Andrew “Rif” Hutchings ’98 took second prize in the first National Problem Solving Competition of 1998, also sponsored by the MAA. The event took place at the MAA’s summer math meeting, held in Toronto. Ari Nieh ’01 also participated in the competition.

“The Problem Solving Competition U.S. National Finals is recognized as the national championship in mathematics,” said Dr. Richard Neal, director of the competition. “The problems are challenging. A broad range of mathematics—including calculus, number theory, analysis, some physics—is necessary to win the competition. The first two students to solve all questions correctly are the champion and runner-up.”

Hutchings is currently a Ph.D. student at Cornell University.

HMC Math Major Wins College Jeopardy! Championship (5/98)

In a nationally televised tournament over two weeks in late May, Andrew “Rif” Hutchings won College Jeopardy! tournament. This tournament is held annually on the Jeopardy! game show hosted by Alex Trebek. Andrew beat contestants from schools like MIT, Yale, and Berkeley. (In addition to knowing lots of random trivia, he was aided by his excellent betting strategies and a category entitled “All About Calculus”, in which he swept all five questions.)

Andrew’s win earned him $25,000, a new Volvo, and the opportunity to appear on the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions early in 1999. Volvo also donated $25,000 to the school on his behalf, which inspired a fund-raising effort to establish a new endowed college scholarship to attract talented math students to HMC.

HMC Math Major Wins Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship (5/98)

Aaron Archer ’98, senior mathematics major, has been offered a Hertz Graduate Fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. He will be attending Cornell University’s Ph.D. program in operations research.

Aaron was one of only 25 students in the nation who received this award, which is granted for graduate studies in applied mathematics or the physical sciences. Awardees were selected on the basis of their academic achievement, commitment to the physical sciences, and character and moral values. Students will receive a stipend of $25,000 each academic year for up to five years. Of the 25 nationwide winners, four awards were granted to Harvey Mudd students. Pretty impressive!

Three HMC Math Majors Earn NSF Graduate Fellowships (4/98)

Ten Harvey Mudd College students and recent graduates were awarded National Science Foundation graduate fellowships for 1998. Five additional Mudd students received honorable mentions. Those students represent nearly 10% of a typical senior class at Harvey Mudd! Each fellowship provides a stipend of $15,000 a year for up to three years of graduate studies in mathematics, science, and engineering.

Among the winners were five mathematics majors! Graduate fellowships went to Aaron Archer ’98 (mathematics) in mathematics (operations research); Kevin Watkins ’98(computer science and mathematics), in computer languages; and Michael Wood-Vasey ’98 (physics and mathematics), in astrophysics. Two more math majors received honorable mentions: Andrew Hutchings ’98 and Brian Johnson ’98. Honorable mentions are given to students who would have been awarded NSF fellowships had funding been available.

Putnam Winners! HMC Team Places Ninth in Nation! (3/98)

The results of the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition are in, and this year the HMC team of Aaron Archer, Brian Johnson, and David Rudel placed ninth in the nation. There were participants from over 400 institutions—Harvey Mudd College was the only undergraduate college in the top ten. The other schools in the top ten were: Harvard, Duke, Princeton, MIT, Washington University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Stanford, Caltech.

We are in good company! It is a considerable accomplishment for a school of our size to do so well in this very challenging competition. Aaron Archer was awarded an Honorable Mention for his individual performance, which ranked him 40th overall. Brian Johnson ranked 105th, and David Rudel 181th, out of the more than 2500 students who took the exam in North America.

HMC had 39 students take the exam, which (we believe) is the highest per capita participation in the nation. We had five students place in the top 200, and 11 students in the top 500. The exam has a maximum score of 120 points; this year the median score was 1 point (that’s right, you read it correctly: one point).

See last year’s results. We have scored as high as 3rd place (team finish) in recent years, and, in 1995, Aaron Archer scored 11th in the nation (individual finish).

Please join us in thanking all the students who took the exam (in alphabetical order): Aaron Archer, Shantanu Bhattacharyya, Tim Buchheim, David Bunde, Zeke Burgess, Tony Chen, Eric Distad, Ben Elgin, Celeste Elton, Geoff Finger, Matt Fluet, Patri Forwalter-Friedman, Jeff Gates, Chris Hanusa, Dylan Helliwell, Andrew Hutchings, Sunmee Jang, Brian Johnson, Christian Jones, Bill Kalahurka, Marco Latini, Claire Launay, Mike Layzon, Karl Mahlburg, Philip Martin, Dominic Mazzoni, Joel Miller, Ari Nieh, Elisha Peterson, Greg Rae, Ranjith Rajagopalan, David Rudel, Yinan Song, Virginia Stoll, Jennifer Voelmeck, Kim Wallmark, Kevin Watkins, and Bill Williams.

This year’s Putnam Seminar coaches were Arthur Benjamin and Francis Su..

Mathematical Contest in Modeling Papers Named Outstanding (3/98)

Early in February, four teams of HMC students, sponsored by the mathematics and computer-science departments, participated in the annual international Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM).

This contest is supported by, among others, the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications, Mathematics Association of America, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and the National Security Agency. This year nearly 500 teams participated in the contest, from all over the world.

The format of the contest is as follows: From midnight on a Thursday until 5:00 PM on the following Monday, teams of three students work on an open-ended problem in mathematical modeling. The teams can use any available resource—books, journals, computers, the Web—anything except actually communicating with people not on the team. Counting appendices and other attachments (such as source code), the teams produce a forty-page paper that details their solution of the problem. The final judging of the papers was completed last weekend.

Of the nearly 500 papers submitted, only seven were deemed “outstanding”, the highest recognition given in the contest. Two Harvey Mudd College teams received that distinction.

Aaron Archer ’98 (math), Brian Johnson ’98 (math), and Andrew “Rif” Hutchings ’98 (math) wrote one of three Outstanding papers for the problem in discrete mathematics (the “B” problem). Their paper was also chosen by SIAM for special recognition, which carries a cash award and travel expenses to a SIAM meeting to present their paper.

Tedd “Thaddeus” Ladd ’98 (physics), Dylan Helliwell ’98 (math), and Jeffrey Miller ’98 (math) were one of four teams winning an outstanding for the problem in continuum mathematical modeling (the “A” problem). These two papers will be published in the UMAP Journal.

The contest recognizes a larger number of papers as “meritorious”; approximately 15% of the papers are so designated. Two HMC teams received this honor: Michael Bush ’98(physics), Neil Burrell ’99 (math), and Bill Kalahurka ’99 (math) submitted a meritorious paper for the “A” problem. Dominic Mazzoni ’99 (math, cs), Patri Forwalter-Friedman ’98 (math), and Bill Williams ’99 (CS, math) wrote their winning paper on the “B” problem.

The performance of the HMC teams was truly outstanding, in all respects. Please join us in congratulating these students for their efforts!

Budapest Semesters in Mathematics (2/98)

Five of our math majors are spending the spring semester in Budapest as part of the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics: Joel Miller, Scott Robertson, Christian Jones, Ranjith Rajagopalan, and David Rudel. Dominic Mazzoni and Ranjith were enrolled in the program last fall.

HMC Student Team in International Computing Competition

On February 28, a three-student Harvey Mudd College team competed in the ACM Programming Competition in Atlanta. The team received honorable mention honors in a field of 54 colleges and university teams from around the world. The team, all seniors, consisted of John Larkin and Kevin Watkins, both double majors in mathematics and computer science; and Brian Johnson, a mathematics major. The Harvey Mudd College team advanced to the international final by winning first place in the southwest United States regional competition of the ACM in November 1997.

Mudder’s Actuarial Exam Success

Math major David Rudel ’99 tied for second place in a recent national actuarial exam given to 2149 university and college students by the Society of Actuaries. Rudel tied with five other students for the second place score on Actuarial Exam 100 (Calculus and Linear Algebra) and trailed closely behind the two students tied for first. He was awarded $100 by the Society of Actuaries.

Actuarial Exam 100 consisted of 45 multiple-choice question on first-year college calculus and linear algebra. Only 33.8 percent of those taking the exam passed.

HMC Programmers Surpass Competition in Programming Contest

A three-student Harvey Mudd College team won the C++ programming competition of the second annual Information Technology Competition held February 28 at Cal Poly Pomona. The team, all juniors at Harvey Mudd College, consisted of computer-science major Nathaniel Sloan, mathematics major Dominic Mazzoni, and physics major Whit Myers. The team achieved a score of 57 out of a possible 70 points on seven problems and earned a check for $1,000.

Mudder Shows Innovation in Computing Language

Mathematics major Matthew Fluet ’99 placed second in an international contest sponsored by software developer Harlequin, Inc. for the most interesting program written in ML, a modern functional computer programming language. For his submission of a plasma fractal generator and a DLX simulator, Fluet was awarded $200 and a free copy of Harlequin software worth $600.

NSF Grant to Revise Mathematics Core Curriculum

The nationally recognized mathematics program at Harvey Mudd College will be further enhanced by new funds from the National Science Foundation. A $60,000 grant will be used to promote interdisciplinary learning, introduce students to exciting new mathematical fields, and provide more opportunities to apply math to open-ended projects, providing what the NSF describes as a national model for better integrating the mathematical sciences.

Revisions in the curriculum made possible by the grant will help students keep up with advances in other scientific fields and enable them to work in a multidisciplinary approach, says Michael Moody, HMC professor of mathematics and chair of the mathematics department. The math courses will combine the teaching of several subjects at the same time, such as linear algebra and differential equations, and students will have additional opportunities to use computer-based math tools, including those on the World-Wide Web.