Teams from Uni High earn honors following 36-hour mathematical modeling competition


Two teams from University High School have earned high honors after participating in an intense mathematical competition that tested their knowledge of algebra, geometry, calculus, programming and other disciplines.

In all, 581 teams from 131 schools from around the globe signed up for the 16th annual High School Math Modeling (HiMCM) competition — including 28 teams from Uni High. But no more than eight squads achieved the highest designation of “Outstanding,” and the Uni team of Daniel Johnson, Matthew Ku, Vinson Luo and David Zheng was one of them, according to results released on Jan. 24.

A separate Uni squad of Matthew Lin, Sparsh Sah, Albert Tung and Lohit Velapapudi earned “National Finalist” status, which was awarded to just 10 teams in the United States.

“This is truly amazing and certainly demonstrates that our students are able to apply what they learn in the classroom to solve real-world problems,” Uni Assistant Principal Patsy Janda said.

Sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications, the hyper-rigorous competition challenged teams of up to four students to solve one of two real-world problems over the course of 36 consecutive hours in November. (More on those problems in a minute.) Students conducted their own research, developed mathematical models, tested those models and wrote a formal paper explaining their work.

The Uni teams, featuring students in grades nine through 12, registered for the HiMCM contest in October under the leadership of Janda and math teacher Stephanie Chang. UCI math professor Dr. Sarah Eichhorn also offered her expertise, coaching students on the basics of mathematical modeling during a series of after-school workshops.

Still, no one knew exactly what they were facing until the teams logged onto their computers in November and started the 36-hour countdown. Here’s what they were up against:

Problem A required a mathematical model that could help a county’s emergency service coordinator decide where to locate ambulances to maximize the number of residents who could be reached within eight minutes of placing an emergency call.

Problem B asked them to create a mathematical model that could serve as the basis for a proposal to a bank manager looking for strategies to decrease wait-times and improve customer satisfaction.

The top-performing Uni teams both chose Problem B — and clearly made an impression on the hypothetical bank manager.

To access the results of this year’s HiMCM competition, click here.