COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling

The Competition

Each year COMAP sponsors a modeling competition.  In COMAP's words, found at their website, the contest "challenges teams of students to clarify, analyze, and propose solutions to open-ended problems."  In the competition student teams investigate one of three problems, write and submit a paper over the course of one long weekend.  In the MCM contest student investigate one of two problems: Problem A is usually a problem of continuous type (see past problems below), Problem B is usually a problem of discrete type.  Students in the ICM contest tackle Problem C, an interdisciplinary problem.  Students at The College of Idaho began participating in this competition in the winter of 2001.          

C of I Results

  • (2014) Blair Symington, Derek Tropf, and Colton Grainger earned an Honorable Mention for their entry in the 2015 COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling, a grueling 96-hour ordeal that took place at the end of Winter Break. Their solution of the problem "Eradicating Ebola" placed them among the top 31% of 7636 participating teams worldwide.
    Rainier Barrett, Erik Nordquist, and Leonardo Trujillo successfully solved 2 of the 3 cryptanalysis problems posed in the 5th annual Kryptos competition. They were among 18 of 67 participating teams to earn this distinction. Congratulations to all of this year's Putnam, MCM, and Kryptos competitors!
  • (2010) Matthew Conner ’10, Bishal Paudel ’11, Jonathan Weese ’11 - Problem B: A Baseball’s “Sweet Spot”: The Best Feeling is No Feeling - Meritorious
  • (2010) Scott Johnson ’11, Nate Landis ’10, Colleen Smith ’11 - Problem A: Geographical Analysis of Serial Criminals - Successful Participant
  • (2009) Ben Coate '09, Zach Kopplin '09, Nate Landis '10 - Problem B: Energy and the Cell Phone - Outstanding
  • (2008) Ben Coate '09, Tyler Gross '08, and Megan Longo '08 - Problem A: Take a Bath - Outstanding (INFORMS Prize Recipient)
  • (2005) Kristine Husler '06, Neill McGrath '06, Corey Westfall '07 - Problem B: Toll Booths - Meritorious
  • (2005) Bert Martin '07, Jared Smith '07, Mike Wells '07 - Problem A: Flood Planning - Successful Participant
  • (2002) Arzhang Fallah '02, Dan Groff '02, Brian Hibberd '02 - Problem B: Airline Overbooking - Meritorious
  • (2001) Arzhang Fallah '02, Dan Groff '02, Joe Rule '01 - Problem A: Choosing a Bicycle Wheel -  Successful Participant


Four award levels are given for papers.  The percentages vary from year to year, but the breakdown for the MCM contest is often along these lines.

  • Outstanding - About 10 papers (4 or 5 from each of the two problems), the top 1% of papers submitted.
  • Meritorious - The next 13% of papers submitted.
  • Honorable Mention - The next 27% of papers submitted.
  • Successful Participant - The remaining 59% of papers submitted.

The outstanding papers are published in the UMAP Journal each year.

Competition Resources

  • The COMAP site
  • Kelly Kline's Guide to the MCM
  • Papers from the University of Washington