COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Department of Mathematics and Statistics

  January 2019 team members: Wendy Yu, Wyatt Wallis, and Rebecca Hsieh.

Spring 2019 100-hour International Math Modeling Competition

A team of three undergraduate students represented WSU in a 100-hour math modeling competition (4 days and 4 hours!) against roughly 15,000 teams world-wide. The competition began on Thursday, January 24, 2019 PST at 2:00pm and ended on Monday, January 28 at 6:00pm PST.

Each team in the international competition could choose to solve one of the following six real-world problems:

  1. Analyze the ecological requirements and effects of the dragons from the popular show Game of Throwns, based on the series of epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire.
  2. Develop an aerial disaster relief system to help deliver medical supplies to hard-to-reach areas using drones.
  3. Use synthetic opioid and heroin data obtained from the counties of 5 states to develop a model to identify locations where specific opioid use might have started, and identify possible strategies for countering the opioid crises.
  4. Develop an evacuation plan for the Louvre museum in France.
  5. Develop a valuation model for the true economic cost of land usage such as building roads, sewers, and bridges.
  6. Develop a policy for identifying the viability and effects of a global decentralized digital financial market such as bitcoins.

Mimicking real-world time pressure the WSU team turned in a 20-page report explaining their assumptions, modeling approach, and their results.

This year WSU was represented by team members: Wendy Yu (chemical engineering), Rebecca Hsieh (bioengineering), and Wyatt Wallis (physics). This was a young team consisting of two first-year students and one sophomore. They decided to choose problem a) analyzing the ecological requirements and effects of the dragons in the show Game of Thrones.

The team's first thought was of water and food requirements, and the effect of the dragon’s feces on the environment. It soon became apparent that the biggest issue facing the team was a lack of data. Members spent one of their first nights skimming through all TV episodes of the show to obtain screen shots, such as the photo below, to obtain realistic sizes of an adult dragon. In this case, the dragon, is Drogon:

By calculating the ratio between the height of the actor who played Jon Snow, Kit Harington, and the size of Drogon’s head, they estimated the head of Drogon to be approximately 1.62m (5.3 ft) tall (!). Similarly, it was also determined that the total wingspan of Drogon was about 44m.

The team then discovered and taught themselves the predator-prey ordinary differential equations model, and used the sika deer population on Hokkaido Island, Japan, as a sample prey population. This population was chosen because the deer have no natural predator and the population is isolated, so it produced data for the model under the assumptions that were reasonable for the predator-prey model. The question was then whether the sika deer could produce enough prey to sustain three adult dragons. Assuming that each adult dragon would need roughly 6000 deer per year to maintain its size, it was shown that on this island, three dragons and the sika deer population will approach a natural equilibrium cycle (neither will go extinct), assuming the dragons’ weights are allowed to fluctuate with the availability of food source.

Above, team members Rebecca Hsieh, Wendy Yu and Wyatt Wallis generate ideas on the first day of the contest. Above, team members Rebecca Hsieh, Wyatt Wallis, and Wendy Yu keep their minds active with coffee... Above, team members Wendy Wu, Wyatt Wallis, and Rebecca Hsieh after the competition is complete. Here Wendy Yu is the task master, Wyatt Wallis the thinker, and Rebeca Hsieh is the communicator.