A team consisting of David Cui ’19, Xinling Dai ’20, and Vladimir Vintu ’20 is the second Colorado College team to receive an honorable mention in the annual Mathematical Contest in Modeling. The event took place earlier this spring with 10,670 teams competing worldwide. Students chose one of three modeling problems, and had four days to work on a solution.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Beth Malmskog, who coached the team, notes that the competition asks students to create a mathematical model of a real-world situation, starting from an open-ended prompt.
Cui, Dai, and Vintu selected the second problem, which addressed language transference, cross-influence, and survivability in the age of sophisticated digital communications. The problem was positioned in context of a large multinational service company seeking to identify potential locations for offices. Teams were asked to mathematically model the evolution of language speaker densities for 10 major languages as influenced by populations movement trends and digital communications to predict where offices should be placed and what languages in addition to English should be resourced with fluent speakers.
“Doing well requires strong mathematical skills and hard work, but also real creativity,” Malmskog says. “David, Vladi, and Xinling did a wonderful job in the competition. Based on past data, they modeled the changing numbers of speakers of the world’s most spoken languages. Using their model, they then predicted how the prevalence of these languages will change in coming years. Their model included the influences of population growth, immigration, and cultural factors, and looked at both first- and second-language speakers.
“I was really impressed,” she says.
“I knew what I was getting into, but perhaps I did not fully realize it back then,” says Vintu. “Four days straight, working on one single model: no distractions, all resources available, no time to lose and a great amount of excitement. The Mathematical Competition in Modeling was, simply put, an incredible experience, and the short time that we had to come up with models made it even better. It is diamonds that are made under such great pressures, which is the reason why, in my opinion, having such a short amount of time to put such a project together makes each model in the competition unique. This year, I am pleased that my team and I managed to finish the competition on time and also receive an Honorable Mention. For next year, I have even bigger plans!”