Success in undergraduate modelling contest


Monday, 14th April 2008

Update! Congratulations to one of the School's teams (Jess Egan, Gabriel McManus and Michael Thomson), who have achieved a 'Meritorious' result (top 14% of teams worldwide) for their paper on algorithms for generating sudokus of different levels of difficulty.

The School's other team (Nicholas Fewster and Sabil Chowdhury) achieved an 'Honorable Mention' for their work predicting the effects of sea level rise on Florida over the next 50 years.

The problems are here

Teams of 2 or 3 students competed over 4 days (Feb 14-18, 2008) to solve a real-life mathematical problem. The team submits a paper on their solution. A sample question (below) will give an idea of the kind of problems which the contest deals with.

Several previous UNSW teams have achieved a 'Meritorious' award (that is, in the top 20% of entries worldwide).

Further information from Jim Franklin (Red Centre 6103; See also the Contest's website

One of last year's problems

PROBLEM B: The Airplane Seating Problem

Airlines are free to seat passengers waiting to board an aircraft in any order whatsoever. It has become customary to seat passengers with special needs first, followed by first-class passengers (who sit at the front of the plane). Then coach and business-class passengers are seated by groups of rows, beginning with the row at the back of the plane and proceeding forward.

Apart from consideration of the passengers’ wait time, from the airline’s point of view, time is money, and boarding time is best minimized. The plane makes money for the airline only when it is in motion, and long boarding times limit the number of trips that a plane can make in a day.

The development of larger planes, such as the Airbus A380 (800 passengers), accentuate the problem of minimizing boarding (and deboarding) time.

Devise and compare procedures for boarding and deboarding planes with varying numbers of passengers: small (85–210), midsize (210–330), and large (450–800).

Prepare an executive summary, not to exceed two single-spaced pages, in which you set out your conclusions to an audience of airline executives, gate agents, and flight crews.

Note: The 2 page executive summary is to be included IN ADDITION to the reports required by the contest guidelines.

An article appeared in the NY Times Nov 14, 2006 addressing procedures currently being followed and the importance to the airline of finding better solutions. The article can be seen at: