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Intel Math The Almighty Buck Science

17-Year-Old Wins Intel's $100K Science Prize 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the boy-genius dept.
autospa writes "A California teenager who cracked a complex mathematical equation has been awarded the Intel Science Talent Search's $100,000 first-place prize. Evan O'Dorney, 17, won the prize for 'his mathematical project in which he compared two ways to estimate the square root of an integer. [He] discovered precisely when the faster way would work,' Intel announced Wednesday."
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17-Year-Old Wins Intel's $100K Science Prize

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  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:25PM (#35507464) Journal

    This 17 year-old is breaking age stereotypes. I applaud that someone this old is still contributing to the field of mathematics. Kudos you old man!

    (insert obligatory XKCD here)

    • He is also from Boston and likes to drink beer and get into fights with his friends. The boy is "wicked smart".
      • by Teun (17872)
        Sorry but what are these 'friends'?

        The poor guy is homeschooled!

        Whatever the advantages of good supervision in the home are, they are outweighed by the lack of day long interaction with others.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mdielmann (514750)

          It could be argued that not being surrounded by under-supervised near-sociopaths until such an age as to not be a near-sociopath yourself isn't a bad thing. A number of famous people in many walks of life were home-schooled, including the likes of Thomas Edison. Here's a link [homeschoolacademy.com] of famous homeschooled people you might recognize. Granted, it's from a site promoting home schooling, but it still gives you plenty of names to google for further verification.

          • by MoonBuggy (611105)

            It could be argued that not being surrounded by under-supervised near-sociopaths until such an age as to not be a near-sociopath yourself isn't a bad thing.

            Possibly, but you're going to have to deal with them eventually - maybe it's better to get a head start? Admittedly the argument that "You should start doing [unpleasant thing] early, because you'll have to do it sooner or later" has never appealed to me - it seems better to minimise the total lifetime exposure to unpleasant people/activities, but my anecdotal experience suggest that those who weren't immersed in the social aspects of school during their formative years do have trouble picking it up later.

            I

            • by fahlesr1 (1910982)

              One of my roommates in college was home schooled. He was also one of the smartest people I met in college, though I can't say if that was from natural ability or his insane study habits. He was also very self-disciplined and I still am envious of his self control. He was a little socially awkward, but not much more than any other geek (he was after all a physics major, I was computer science)

              Granted he is only one example, but when you look at the state of public education, its no wonder so many people choo

              • by mug funky (910186)

                oh, God, teacher logic.

                they have to pull the door off rather than install a big, fucking loud smoke detector that will make everyone point and laugh and the smoker lurch out of there with their tail between their legs.

                they could even put, i don't know, a little cage around the smoke detector so the kiddies couldn't disable it? or place it out of safe reach?

                nah, teachers don't think like that.

          • by c6gunner (950153)

            It could be argued that not being surrounded by under-supervised near-sociopaths until such an age as to not be a near-sociopath yourself isn't a bad thing.

            This assumes that your parents aren't near-sociopaths themselves; an unfounded and unlikely assumption.

          • by recrudescence (1383489) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @05:56PM (#35509230)
            Actually, Thomas Edison is probably the worst example you could pick. Reportedly the man was a sociopath. For all his genius and cunning, he still:
            • electrocuted animals with AC current and invented and popularized the electric chair just to make a marketing point of AC being unsafe, so he would promote a DC current as the standard (arguably a less safe form of electricity) for common use.
            • He manipulated or outright cheated the patent system out of other people's inventions; the most famous one being the lightbulb.
            • Relied on (what I would call 'Apple-like') marketing rather than facts to manipulate public opinion, intimidate, and promote a lot of his ideas, sidelining significantly better opponents and inventions / discoveries.
            • His antics among others, severely limited the work of a *true* genius of the time, Nikolai Tesla, purely for monetary and personal gratification, setting science back by years http://goo.gl/vguj5 [goo.gl]

            Shrewd business man? Yes. Ambitious? Skilled inventor and scientist? Yes. Hardworking? Yes ... but also a sociopath nonetheless.

          • Here's a link of famous homeschooled people you might recognize.

            Wow, I always assumed Joan of Arc went to a state-run school like all the other girls in the 15th century. Actually, much of that list is meaningless because it classifies "lack of formal education" as "homeschooled".

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Well, a lot of famous people WERE weird in some way or another. Average people tend to lead average and balanced lives, which quite frankly limits your potential to be extreme in something and become famous for it. Would Stephen Hawking be the famous scientist if he wasn't a cripple, just as bright but out partying with the girls and worked part time in a store to get money for a car? Probably not. Or look at someone like Perelman, brilliant mathematician, turned down the Fields medal, turned down 1 million

            • by mattack2 (1165421)

              Would he be famous? Who knows.. But he got his B.A. in natural sciences, with a scholarship, at age 20.. and was diagnosed at age 21.

        • by MaWeiTao (908546)

          Whatever the advantages of good supervision in the home are, they are outweighed by the lack of day long interaction with others.

          I'm not really fan of homeschooling, although I have no problem with people who want to do it. Americans place far too much importance on socializing, especially at the expense of academic excellence. I guarantee you the top academic performers aren't wasting their time interacting with classmates.

          • Most of the top academic performers will eventually go on to be the best engineer in their company. Meanwhile, the future CEO is hanging out with his classmates.
        • by fluffy99 (870997)

          Sorry but what are these 'friends'?

          The poor guy is homeschooled!

          Whatever the advantages of good supervision in the home are, they are outweighed by the lack of day long interaction with others.

          Public school for very bright kids often prevents them from excelling. Public schools in the US (particularly after the no-child-left-behind nonsense) teach to the lowest common denominator and classes only progress at the pace of the slowest kid in the room. Whereas homeschooling and Charter type schools are far more flexible in focusing on a particular child's needs and abilities. Besides, there is nothing saying a homeschooled kid can't have an active social life and develop good social skills.

          My kid

      • by tyrione (134248)

        He is also from Boston and likes to drink beer and get into fights with his friends. The boy is "wicked smart".

        Unfortunately, he was all outta dem Apples.

  • by Yold (473518) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:30PM (#35507534)

    He won the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee also.

  • Haters gonna hate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Palmsie (1550787) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:42PM (#35507658)

    There is a whole lot of hate in the above comments. Especially within a website that values science, math, and technology, why should he be shunned? We need more people who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices (e.g. social, monetary, etc) to devote all of their energy toward progressing humanity forward.

    Good for him. Keep it up. Go invent something even better. And next time, bring some people along with you so even more people can see the value in science and the scientific process. It's a shame that society doesn't value these walks of life when they govern everything we do in the modern world.

    • The hate is directed at the entry at a fundamental level. He deserves a pat on the back, but "teenager wins competition for teenagers" doesn't exactly merit a ./ nod.
      • Apparently it does, because you're reading /. and here it is....
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:58PM (#35507824) Homepage

        The hate is directed at the entry at a fundamental level. He deserves a pat on the back, but "teenager wins competition for teenagers" doesn't exactly merit a ./ nod.

        Why not? He accomplished something in the field of mathematics.

        If that isn't "news for nerds", then I don't know what is -- it's far more interesting than hearing that Taco visited Lucasfilm but can't tell us anything about it other than a showing picture of him in front of a Yoda statue.

        • Yeah, I once was a nerd.

          But then life happened.

          Now, I'm not. In fact, I can't even understand the abstract.

          Well, maybe I could if I tried hard enough. But right now, I can't.

          Maybe there are others like me out there, who still think we can hang out at slashdot, and.... ... oh darn.... [MickLinux, still not ready for time.com, heads to CNN.com to see Clark Howard. Keeping razorblades sharp is about as nerdy as he can handle anymore]

      • ...doesn't exactly merit a ./ nod.

        Indeed, what an insult it is to we Slashdotters, Titans of Knowledge, Defenders of Pedantry, Keepers of the Sacred Nerd Ways to blemish our dear, pure website with the presences of such an intellectual peon. Surely we, the Leaders of the Free World of Intelligent Discourse deserve to not be distracted by such petty intellectual achievements.

        Now we have an entire thread where we will have to discuss the merits of recognizing intelligence in youth, rather than addressing more important public concerns, l

      • by Nyder (754090)

        The hate is directed at the entry at a fundamental level. He deserves a pat on the back, but "teenager wins competition for teenagers" doesn't exactly merit a ./ nod.

        And the hundreds of stories about facebook do?

        Why are you on this site?

    • It's pretty sad when people troll "news for nerds" to ridicule nerds...
    • With you on this one!

      These awards may seem arbitrary to some, but they are necessary - Recognition is a powerful motivator!

      If our world is managed by such intellectuals... just imagine the possibilities! A world that shifts it's ideology from mass consumerism (with detriment), to one of efficient pragmatism, solving problems hands-on and directly!

      • by Palmsie (1550787)

        Don Campbell kind of created a similar vision, he called it the experimenting society. Check it out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:43PM (#35507662)

    My son competed in the national "Who Wants to be a Mathematician" competition for high school students in New Orleans last January. (He was one of ten contestants, so we were proud.) Evan O'Dorney was the defending champion, and he won the event pretty handily. (My son came within one question (!) of competing against him in the final round, btw.)

    I spoke briefly with Evan at the competition. Definitely a strange personality -- Asperger's or high-functioning autistic or something. He seemed pretty nice, though, and his explanations of how he got his answers were very clear and concise. Glad to see he's making a name for himself.

    I believe he also won the national spelling bee when he was, like, ten or something.

    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:15PM (#35507994)

      for some reason that story reminded me of this quote from Good Will Hunting.

      Sean: Hey, Gerry, In the 1960s there was a young man that graduated from the University of Michigan. Did some brilliant work in mathematics. Specifically bounded harmonic functions. Then he went on to Berkeley. He was assistant professor. Showed amazing potential. Then he moved to Montana, and blew the competition away.
      Lambeau: Yeah, so who was he?
      Sean: Ted Kaczynski.

      I hope he does well.

  • by sirdude (578412) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:44PM (#35507678)
    The link in the article seems to be from some sort of spammy ad/link farm. This [mercurynews.com] might be a little authentic.

    At 17, Danville's Evan O'Dorney already has won the National Spelling Bee and a gold medal at an international math Olympiad, meeting two presidents along the way. On Tuesday, he claimed the triple-crown: the coveted Intel Science Talent Search's $100,000 top prize.

  • How about a link to the proof or the project? That's the part that interests the inner geek in me.

  • Learn how to drive. On a more serious note, the actual formula is 4d{+2}/k-d{+2}. He's done a bunch of theoretical math. Kudos to him http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-03-05/news/28661918_1_graphing-calculator-international-math-olympiad-stanford-university-math [sfgate.com]
  • by xophos (517934) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @03:57PM (#35507820)

    When i try to read more than the abstract, they want some kind of login.
    Please next time spare us the teasing and ignore news without content.

    • It's news for nerds when someone discovers a new math theorem and you click on the preprint.

      It's news for nerd groupies when the preprint is hard to find or only exists behind a paywall.

      No preprint == no story.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:04PM (#35507882)

    You're living at home, minding your own business and playing lots of computer games - then you go and solve some really hard math puzzle. Next thing you know, you're billions of light years from earth on a broken down starship, with no way to get home and lots of people trying to kill you! It's not worth it...

    • by Abstrackt (609015)
      Careful, some TV exec might catch on to that idea and make a horrible series out of it!
  • int EstimateSquareRoot(int val) { return 1;}

    Oh, you wanted a good estimate. nevermind.

  • He's home schooled and studied Calculus at UC Berkeley when he was around 13.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:57PM (#35508508) Homepage
    Ok. Going off of the description http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/4/3/5/0/2/p435027_index.html TFA and the summary are somewhat inaccurate. He wasn't calculating the speed of different methods. Rather, he took two well known methods of approximating a square root, both of which when starting with a rational number give you a sequence of rational numbers which converge to the square root, and he gave a close to complete description of when the two sequences share infinitely many terms. This doesn't have any obvious algorithm application but it is very nice number theory.
    • by tyrione (134248)

      Ok. Going off of the description http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/4/3/5/0/2/p435027_index.html [allacademic.com] TFA and the summary are somewhat inaccurate. He wasn't calculating the speed of different methods. Rather, he took two well known methods of approximating a square root, both of which when starting with a rational number give you a sequence of rational numbers which converge to the square root, and he gave a close to complete description of when the two sequences share infinitely many terms. This doesn't have any obvious algorithm application but it is very nice number theory.

      Basically, day one in Numerical Analysis at the University level.

  • Where is the actual equation itself? I'd like to see the problems these kids are solving..

  • I hope he is better socially now as a 17 years old but somehow I doubted it ... home-schooled is most likely one of the reason? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRZNQ06kWyc [youtube.com]

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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