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A Lafayette trio of Lazar Nikolic, Daniel Swarr, and Guangxi Wang placed within the top 14 percent of participating teams and earned the second-highest rating in the 17th annual Mathematical Contest in Modeling, an international competition sponsored by COMAP, the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications, Feb. 9-12.

Results of the contest, held Feb. 9-12, were released in late March. In the contest, teams of up to three undergraduates were given a long weekend to research and submit an optimal solution for one of two open-ended modeling problems. There were 496 teams participating, including 264 teams representing 163 U.S. institutions and 232 teams from 75 institutions in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Lithuania, China, Singapore, and South Africa.

Nikolic is a junior mathematics and computer science double major from Roswell, Ga. Swarr, a Marquis Scholar, is a junior math and physics double major from Clifton Park, N.Y. Wang is sophomore electrical and computer engineering major from Shanghai, China. Advising the team was L. Thomas Hill, associate professor of mathematics.

The problem they solved dealt with bicycle wheels and what edge they may give in a race. Before any contest, professional cyclists make educated guesses about which of two basic types of wheels to choose for the race. The students were challenged to develop a mathematical model to help determine which type of wheel – wire spoke or solid disk – should be used for any given race course.

Solutions to this problem were submitted by 215 teams. Three earned the top rating of “Outstanding” and 27 teams earned the next-best designation, “Meritorious.”

Other U.S. institutions earning the Outstanding or Meritorious designations were California Polytechnic State University, Harvey Mudd College, James Madison University, John Carroll College, Lake Superior State University, Lewis and Clark College, Trinity University (Texas), U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, Washington University in St. Louis, Westminster College, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University.

The team of Nikolic, Swarr and Wang also earned a Meritorious rating in the previous year’s Mathematical Contest in Modeling.

In addition, Wang led Lafayette to an impressive showing this year in the 61st Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. As a team, Lafayette finished No. 40, placing in the top 10 percent of the 434 participating institutions. Wang’s performance tied him for 303rd place, putting him among the top 11 percent of the 2818 individual competitors. Lafayette’s three-man team also included seniors Brian Bagenstose, an electrical and computer engineering major from Reading, Pa., and Bruce Adcock, a Marquis Scholar and math major from Watervliet, N.Y.

Categorized in: Academic News