The results from the 2019 COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling are in. The COMAP contest is an international, team based, undergraduate, mathematical modeling competition. Teams of up to three students write up a thorough solution approach within 4 days. Submissions are judged on the basis of scientific merits as well as clarity and organization of the written report. This year, 14,108 teams representing institutions from seventeen countries/regions participated in the contest.

One of our teams, consisting of Andrea Lanz, Sara Tro and Michael Kupperman, was awarded Meritorious Winner! This corresponds to the top 7% internationally. Only 42 teams did better!

Other Successful Participants from OSU include Elaine Swanson, Max Morrow, Christine Wong, Rachel Sousa, Megan Tucker and Sean Pitman.

Congratulations to all of our participants.

This year’s contest ran from Thursday, January 24 to Monday, January 28, 2019. During that time, teams researched, modeled, and submitted a solution to one of three modeling problems.

The A problem asked teams to consider the ecological ramifications of fiction coming to life by posing a world in which dragons exist on the Earth. What characteristics would they have? How would they behave? What and how much would they eat? Does it matter where they live? These were just a few of the many aspects teams had to model and analyze to understand and communicate the impact of these fictional creatures living and thriving among humans. Time dynamics were implicit in this problem, which increased the mathematical challenges that teams faced.

The B problem asked teams to select, configure, optimally pack, geoposition, deploy and operate a set of midsize (group 2) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that would supplement existing relief medical supply chains on Puerto Rico. Once beyond identifying effective ‘DroneGo’ system configurations, teams were required to plan flight paths, schedules, and supply lift details throughout the island while conducting visual road reconnaissance and damage assessment to aid disaster relief operations. Implicit to this problem were two NP-hard problems involving 3D container packing optimization, thereby causing teams to adopt clever heuristics to address this aspect of the problem.

The C problem involved teams in a current epidemic involving human use of opioids and narcotic analgesics in the U.S. Forensic information for drug identification and counts for all counties in 5 adjoining U.S. states was provided by the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLISDEA). Using this data, teams were asked to build a mathematical model capable of both assessing how severe the unabated problem could become in the future and to regress in time to possibly identify counties in which first use occurred. Teams were then asked to examine seven years of socioeconomic factors associated with these same 5 states to determine which, if any, of these factors were linked to trends in these data, and to modify their initial model to include these as appropriate. Finally, teams were asked to combine insights and results from these two efforts to suggest effective strategies for combating this epidemic while using their model(s) to test these strategies.

More information about the contest and results can be found at

Tuesday, May 21, 2019