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Archive for April 2011

High school students offer flood of ideas to counter Southwest drought

Florida’s Pine View School takes top prize in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2011

M3 Challenge 2011 Champions: Team members (L-R) Alex Kiefer, Jason Oettinger, Caroline Bowman, Anthony Grebe and Patrick Braga with SIAM Past President Margaret Wright (far left), Moody's Foundation's Fran Laserson (center) and their teacher-coach, Ann Hankison (far right)

The 14 hours they spent typing on laptops, poring over data sets, developing formulas, and writing computer programs to come up with a five-year picture of the prolonged drought in the arid American Southwest finally seemed worthy of the effort to at least 30 of the thousands of high school students who participated in Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge 2011.

The elation was discernible in the collective beam of the five team members from Osprey, Florida’s Pine View School, as they took center stage, displaying their $20,000 prize check, at Moody’s Corporation headquarters late Thursday afternoon. The young men and woman emerged as the Champions of the 2011 Challenge, an Internet-based applied math contest, organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stack Exchange becomes MathJax Partner

Stack Exchange chooses MathJax to math-enable their popular science and technology forums

LONG BEACH, Calif. — April 19, 2011 — Stack Exchange has announced major support for MathJax by joining the project as a MathJax Partner. MathJax is an open source JavaScript display engine for mathematics that works in all modern browsers. Stack Exchange is a rapidly growing network of community-driven Q&A sites, and is already using MathJax on several sites in the network.

Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Exchange, notes, “We use MathJax to support math notation within our expert Q&A forums. The Stack Exchange sites currently using MathJax include: MathematicsTheoretical Computer SciencePhysics, Statistical AnalysisQuantitative Finance, and Electronics Design.” With MathJax, authors can express their ideas on Stack Exchange using mathematical notation, which could be lengthy and complicated formulas or just the proper mathematical symbol.

The Stack Exchange implementation of MathJax utilizes a recently launched MathJax CDN service, offering very fast download times to readers around the world and making sure that MathJax is always up to date.

By becoming a MathJax Partner, Stack Exchange makes a strong commitment to supporting the ongoing development of MathJax, and to offering their users a simple and reliable way to read and write mathematics on the web.

About MathJax

MathJax was initiated in 2009 by Design Science, the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) with the aim of developing a universal, robust, and easy to use solution to display mathematics on the web, which had been a long-standing technical challenge. The project has received additional support from the American Physical Society, Elsevier, and Project Euclid at Cornell. MathJax is rapidly becoming the new standard for high-quality display of mathematics on the web, and is already in use by several leading publishers and platforms.

About Stack Exchange

Headquartered in New York City, Stack Exchange is a fast-growing network of question and answer sites covering a diverse range of topics from software programming and cooking to photography and personal finance. Founded in 2008, co-founders Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky brought together millions of computer programmers from around the world to help each other with detailed technical questions. Based on Stack Overflow’s success, the company expanded and launched the Stack Exchange Network in August 2010. Stack Exchange currently consists of 46 sites and has more than 19 million unique monthly visitors – and growing. To date, the company has raised more than $18 million from Union Square Ventures, Index Capital and Spark Capital.  For more information, please visit

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Graduating or earning your final degree this spring?

If you are earning your final degree this year and will no longer be a student, it’s important that you remain a part of the SIAM community. Getting started in a career can be a little unsettling but SIAM can help you through the rough spots. To ease the transition from your student membership to a full regular membership, which costs $133 in 2011, SIAM offers a postgraduate membership at 50% off the price of regular membership for the first three years after receiving a final degree (net amount in 2011: $67), then 25% off for the fourth and fifth years (net amount in 2010: $97). If you’ll be graduating this year and not continuing as a student next year, you can remain a part of the SIAM community for just 18 cents a day! Read the rest of this entry »

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Waters run deep at M3 Challenge 2011

Top 43 teams to share $100,000 in prize money in math modeling contest

The resolution of the water crisis in the Colorado River Basin may still be years away, but the answer to who had the best solution among the 2,585 high school students who tackled the problem in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2011 will be decided within days! The 568 participating teams have been whittled down to just six that are still in contention for top prizes, and their final rank order will be determined  on April 28.

Working in teams of 3-5, students estimated the implications of the region’s long-term drought for 14 straight hours on an early March weekend, creating assumptions and devising mathematical models to determine the hydrologic impact on Lake Powell, while taking into account the region’s economic and political make-up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Complex Systems and the Financial Crisis

Complex systems are everywhere. In nature, you find them in basic structures such as living cells, insect colonies, and entire ecosystems. Man-made creations such as power grids and transportation networks also function as complex systems. So do elaborate technological innovations such as the World Wide Web.

Deciphering the mathematics behind these intricate systems is the idea behind Mathematics Awareness Month, April 2011. Math can help unravel patterns in these critical infrastructures of everyday life, thus improving our interactions with them, making them more reliable, and averting potential disasters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Migratory Birds, domestic poultry and avian influenza

The persistence and recurrence of H5N1 avian influenza in endemic regions can largely be blamed on movement and infection by migratory birds. Trade in poultry, poultry products and caged birds, and movement of wild birds also account for H5N1 prevalence in these areas. Several recent outbreaks of avian influenza have suggested strong evidence of migratory birds playing a role in transmitting the virus over long distances.

In a paper published last week in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Lydia Bourouiba, Stephen A. Gourley, Rongsong Liu, and Jianhong Wu analyze the interaction between non-migratory poultry and migratory birds in order to investigate the role of the latter in the spread of H5N1. Read the rest of this entry »

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120 teams survive first round of judging in M3 Challenge 2011

Over 80 professional applied mathematicians spent the last few weeks perusing more than 500 submissions from high school teams in M3 Challenge 2011. The first phase of judging is now complete and 120 teams have been selected to move into the next round.

These teams remain contenders for team prizes between $1,000 and $20,000.On March 5-6, 2011, 568 teams from high schools along the U.S. East Coast used mathematical modeling to determine the economic and hydrologic impact of long-term drought in the Colorado River Basin, while taking into account the political ramifications of water distribution to the basin states. View the problem here.

Following three rounds of judging, scholarship prizes will be awarded to the best solution papers. Read the rest of this entry »

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SIAM student chapters host conferences throughout the 2010-2011 academic year

SIAM Student Chapters have been very active this year, hosting both local and regional conferences. The meetings offered students opportunities to present their research in  supportive environments and to network with peers and faculty from multiple institutions in their area or state.  Following is a brief description of each of the chapter conferences held this year. Read the rest of this entry »

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