Dogbert is so cute.

I was incredibly excited about this but told myself I’d finish my analysis problem set before writing anything about it (which I did! am actually going to submit analysis homework on time!). anyway.

we won. isn’t that crazy? isn’t that completely impossible, inexplicable and unexpected? when i signed up i only wanted to have taken part in a modelling contest (for artificial bragging rights).. who knew i can now say that i’ve won a modelling contest? since most (all?) of you are singaporeans and have been brought up to like statistics, here’s the breakdown.
16 teams registered.
12 teams actually submitted solutions. (the other 4 realised what it really took and that they didn’t have it decided sleep deprivation was not for them and so dropped out)
7 teams were successful participants, i.e. lost. i was expecting to be one of them.
3 teams got an honorable mention, 2 of which will represent cornell at the intl mcm in feb.
2 teams were contest winners, both of which will represent cornell at the intl mcm in feb.

and we were one of the winners!

alex was doing the debrief and gave us an overview of the rest of the papers. one of them quoted tolkien, which was his personal favourite. a few took tree density into account in their model and had v. mathematically sophisticated things. when i think of our NEF discrete distribution i want to cringe and tell the judges they must be mistaken. there was one that ran along the lines of: they koped some program from online and ran some tests on it, discovering that all the ash trees were going to die anyway and so decided to pack it in and go for coffee, since no recommendation would be good enough (this is not that far from reality actually). some had exceedingly modest titles, like “SAVING THE WORLD: How to eliminate the emerald ash borer”. alex also brought in a forest entomologist to tell us about the situation in the real world, since apparently many of our papers had a rather large disconnect with reality.

all the teams were there save one, which lost anyway. my dear team members did not deign to show up, since i was the only one egotistical enough to think we might not come in last. i did go there expecting to lose, but i at least wanted to know that i lost, not just not show up and not know how we did. all the other teams were practically in full force, and all of them looked like they expected to win. a bunch of asians, and some computery guys who looked like they can programme a model faster than i can digest the problem statement. alex was doing a team-count and he looked at me sympathetically and said.. “are you here with anybody? you’re representing your team by yourself? you must be very brave.” and i felt so tiny and inconsequential among everyone else and thought about how embarrassing it was going to be when i just.. lost. there was only one other girl there who was in a team with 2 other guys and they lost, and i really, really didn’t want to be the other team with a girl that lost. well our team had TWO girls – tiffany and me, so i guess we didn’t do too shabbily. and when alex came up to shake my hand etc. and give me the cornell gift cards/judges’ comments he asked why my teammates weren’t there i told him we didn’t think we had a shot. if you read our paper you’ll know. there’s no sophisticated math in it anywhere. the most complicated thing in there might be the sigmoid function, which we used (rather arbitrarily) to model natural mortality – how sad is that?

but i am psyched. because it’s our first (and i thought last T-T) try, because we’re mere sophomores, because… we didn’t give a hundred percent and it still worked out okay. that’s the best part i think, like getting something for nothing. although not -quite- nothing, i almost killed myself with the monday all-nighter because i was already sick, so i’m glad there’s something to show for it. $35 at the cornell store, that’s what, a year’s supply of foolscap?

so next feb 18 – 22 we will be pretty much dead to the world. have to drastically level up between now and then if we don’t want to bomb completely at the intl one. since i suspect the judges there will be far less susceptible to my blatant smoking.



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