Making Sense of the 2010 Census

Andrew Das Sarma, Jacob Hurwitz, David Tolnay, and Scott Yu
Montgomery Blair High School
Silver Spring, Maryland

We entered the 2010 Moody's Mega Math Challenge (M3), an applied mathematics competition sponsored by the Moody's Foundation and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). The subject of the contest changes every year, so there was no way to predict that this year's challenge would be about the Census. On the day of the contest, we had 14 hours to research the Census, create models, and write a report. We were allowed to research the Census on the Internet, but we could not consult other people. At the end of the day, we uploaded our solution paper with only 35 seconds to spare.

After the contest, a panel of Ph.D.-level mathematicians judged our paper to be among the top six in the country, earning us a trip to New York City to present our work. At this stage, we were given more time to improve our research. We were also allowed to consult additional resources, such as our Coach. We combined these improvements with our original paper when creating our slides. In New York City, our presentation earned us the distinguished honor of 2010 Moody's Mega Math Challenge Champions.

In the months since the competition, our paper was accepted for publication in the SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO) journal. Although we made minor stylistic and grammatical changes to our paper, we did not modify the organization or statistical content of the paper. This way, readers can get a sense of what is possible during a 14-hour contest. We did, however, write an addendum that describes the improvements we made to our research since writing the paper. The addendum is available on this website, but not in SIURO.

Information about the Moody's Mega Math Challenge

Information about the Montgomery Blair High School team

Making Sense of the 2010 Census research material