2021: Judge Commentary

Judge Commentary

Kelly Black, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics, University of Georgia

The costs, needs, and infrastructure associated with internet access was the topic for the 2021 Mathworks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge. Teams were provided data for the costs associated with internet access as well as the types of information that is accessed. The students taking part produced outstanding responses and did so under difficult circumstances. Every year the judges are impressed by the determination and dedication of the teams and their coaches. This year the teams managed to persevere with aplomb under circumstances we would never have predicted! More than ever, we are in awe of the teams and their coaches. Thank you all!

In response to the teams’ incredible work I will provide an overview of how some teams approached the required tasks in this year’s Challenge. The focus of the first three sections is on the three tasks, in order:

  • Construct a model to predict the cost of internet access for each of the next 10 years.
  • Construct a model to predict the internet needs of a given household and use the model to predict the needs for three given families.
  • Construct a method to determine the best locations for stations in a cellular network and demonstrate how it can be used for three different regions.

The final section provides an overview of some of the basic modeling and writing issues the judges observed. Many of these observations have been discussed before, and they are always an issue. This year, however, they seemed to be more acute. I do not know why this is the case but suspect the difficulties associated with coordination and collaboration played a role.