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PRIMES and RSI Students Win Davidson Awards

Franklyn Wang David Wu

Two students participating in PRIMES and RSI recently received $25,000 Davidson Fellows Scholarships.

PRIMES-USA participant Franklyn Wang, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology and Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018 finalist, won for solving a math problem that has puzzled mathematicians for nearly a century. Franklyn presented his findings in his paper "Monodromy Groups of Indecomposable Rational Functions," mentored by Prof. Michael Zieve of the University of Michigan.

David Wu, now an MIT freshman, wrote his paper under mentor and MIT doctoral student Robert Burklund, as part of the 2017 RSI math program class. The paper, “Nonuniform Distributions of Patterns of Sequences of Primes in Prime Moduli,” aims to improve methods for gathering data on prime number patterns by several orders of magnitude, and may be applied to cryptography and cybersecurity. David was also a 2017 Siemens semifinalist and a 2018 Regeneron STS finalist.

Three other PRIMES students earned honorable mentions: Ayush Agarwal of San Ramon, CA, Louis Golowich of Lexington, MA, and Michael Ma of Plano, TX.

The 2018 Davidson Fellows will be recognized in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. PRIMES and RSI programs last year were run by faculty advisors Pavel Etingof, David Jerison, and Ankur Moitra, program director Slava Gerovitch, and head mentor Tanya Khovanova.

Ankur Moitra and Bill Minicozzi Earn School of Science Teaching Prizes

Ankur Moitra Bill Minicozzi

Ankur Moitra and Bill Minicozzi were among four recipients of the School of Science’s 2018 Teaching Prizes for Graduate and Undergraduate Education.

Ankur was awarded the prize for graduate education for a course he designed called “Algorithmic Aspects of Machine Learning” (18.S996/18.409). Notes from this class have been turned into a monograph, which has already been used in courses across the country. Nominators said Moitra distinguished himself as an inspirational, caring, and captivating teacher.

Bill was awarded the prize for undergraduate education for his teaching of “Multivariable Calculus” (18.02). Students consistently praised his clarity, ability to engage the class, and sense of humor. Nominators also noted his ability to treat difficult topics at an appropriate pace in his upper-level undergraduate courses.

The prizes are awarded annually to School of Science faculty members who demonstrate excellence in teaching. Winners are chosen from nominations by their students or colleagues.

Read more at the School of Science.

Alan Edelman’s Julia 1.0 Debuts at Convention

Alan Edelman

Julia, a free, open-source programming language created by Alan Edelman and others at MIT, was officially launched as Julia 1.0 at the recent JuliaCon in London.

“The release of 1.0 says that Julia is now ready to change the technical world by combining the high-level productivity and ease of use of Python and R with the lightning-fast speed of C++,” said Alan, in a CSAIL article.

Julia, used by technical coders at such places as Google, Facebook, and the Department of Energy, has helped power self-driving cars and MIT robots, and used in such fields as precision medicine, augmented reality, and genomics.

See CSAIL’s article on Julia 1.0.
See YouTube video “A Conversation with Gilbert Strang,” where Gil spoke at JuliaCon about linear algebra and computational math.

Jörn Dunkel and Others Solve Age-old Spaghetti Mystery

Jorn Dunkel

If you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment: Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make? If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again. Can you break the noodle in two? If not, you’re in very good company.

It’s nearly impossible to break a dry spaghetti noodle into only two pieces. Showing how it’s done is an MIT study by Jörn Dunkel, his graduate student Vishal Patil, instructor Norbert Stoop, and others.

The spaghetti challenge, which flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman ’39, was solved in their paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more on MIT News.

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