This year, Ohio State participated in the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) and the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM), which took place Jan. 25-28, 2019. Teams of three undergraduate students choose a problem from a collection given at the beginning of the event. This year, there were six problems, three in the MCM and three in the ICM. The problems mimic real-life situations an applied mathematician might face, and all try to be topical. This year, three problems emphasized current emergencies and disasters; the opioid crisis in the Midwest, evacuating a museum, and providing aerial disaster relief to Puerto Rico were the topics of three problems. Two others tackled situations of current interest: cryptocurrencies and modeling the economic cost of environmental degradation. The final problem was lighter in tone and was based on sustainability considerations for three characters from Game of Thrones.

Ohio State entered three teams this year. Two teams, consisting of Yu Si, Shiyu Dou and Jiaqi Yang, and Yuqiang Lin,Yu Luan and Mingxin Xie, chose "Time to leave the Louvre.” The third team — Nolan Hanna, Frank Tusick and Rahul Sreeram — wrote on "The Opioid Epidemic: A Computational Cartographical Model.” Two of the teams earned honorable mention recognition, which put them in the top 25% of participants. The third was designated a "successful participant" (about 10% of teams do not complete the contest).

The MCM-ICM has grown from a regional event to a premier international competition for aspiring undergraduate students in applied mathematics. This year, about 26,000 teams — 99% of them from outside the U.S. — competed. This competition has proved valuable in illustrating how one doesn’t necessarily need to be an applied mathematician to enjoy applied mathematics.

Article contributed by Professor Barbara Keyfitz