Campus News in Brief

CMU students place in Putnam competition

A team of three Carnegie Mellon students earned fifth place in the Mathematical Association of America’s 73rd William Lowell Putnam Competition, ahead of other top schools including Harvard and Princeton Universities.

Last December, 4,277 students from 578 universities participated in the Putnam competition, a mathematics competition held for American and Canadian undergraduate students, according to a university press release.

The students were given six hours to solve 12 complex mathematical problems that required the use of creative concepts taught in college math courses.

One of the three students who helped Carnegie Mellon achieve its fifth-place status was first-year math major Linus Hamilton, who placed in the top 10.

The three students on the fifth-place team, inclduing sophomore mathematical sciences majors Michael Druggan and Albert Gu are Knaster-McWilliams Scholars ­— a scholarship program that allows increased access to faculty and early research opportunities.

“This is the first time in Carnegie Mellon’s history that the Putnam team placed in the top five for two years in a row,” said Po-Shen Loh, assistant professor of mathematical sciences and the team’s coach, in a university press release.

“It’s even more exciting that this year, Carnegie Mellon has the second-highest number of students with scores in the top 500, ahead of Harvard and Princeton.

This reflects the breadth and caliber of talent that Carnegie Mellon has developed, and bodes well for our university’s trajectory,” Loh said.

Carnegie Mellon’s department of mathematical sciences in the Mellon College of Science will receive $5,000 for its fifth-place award, and each team member will receive $200.

Center for human rights awarded new grant

Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Human Rights Science received a $175,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to investigate how social media is changing human rights fact-finding.

“An increasingly common refrain among new media technologists is that it is crucial to give people whose basic human rights are being threatened or denied a way to tell the world about their predicaments,” said Jay Aronson, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Human Rights Science, in a university press release.

As society turns more to social media to discover the world’s injustices and natural disasters, human rights organizations have been wary of whether this development is protecting victims or disrespecting their privacy.

Carnegie Mellon will be able to study the implications of social media on human rights with university resources, which include machine learning, data mining, statistics, computer science, information systems, and policy analysis.

Aronson will head the project along with Stephen Fienberg, the Maurice Faulk University professor of statistics and social science, and Daniel Neill, associate professor of information systems.