The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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MIE Undergraduate Makes Finals of INFORMS Student Paper Competition

Matthew Eden

Matthew Eden

Undergraduate student Matthew Eden of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has been selected as one of six finalists for the 2018 Undergraduate O.R. Prize Competition at the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in Phoenix, Arizona, from November 4 to 7. Eden’s research paper is titled "Evolving contact network algorithm: a new simulation method for modeling HIV, a disease with low prevalence but a critical public health issue in the US."

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Eden’s research has been supported by a five-year, approximately $1.5-million grant from the National Institutes of Health, and his faculty advisor is MIE Professor Chaitra Gopalappa, the principal investigator for that grant.

As the INFORMS letter of congratulations said to Eden: “We received many excellent papers this year, and you should be very proud of your work.”

According to Eden and his paper’s abstract, an estimated 37,600 people in the United States are newly infected with HIV each year. Mathematical models play a significant role in evaluating strategies for reducing the number of new infections to zero. “Individual-level, agent-based, network modeling” (ABNM) is a suitable method for simulating the transmission of HIV in the United States. Nevertheless, low HIV prevalence in the population and multiple transmission modes make ABNM infeasible.” 

Eden adds that “We present a new modeling technique, an evolving contact network algorithm (ECNA), to address these issues. Numerical results comparing ECNA with ABNM estimations for disease trajectories on scale-free networks are promising for low prevalence diseases.”

There will be two designated sessions at the INFORMS annual meeting to showcase the presentations of the finalists on Sunday, November 4. One winner will be selected out of the six finalists, which will be announced at the awards ceremony later that same day. The winner will be awarded a total cash prize of $500 (to be shared equally by student co-authors). 

INFORMS calls itself the world’s largest professional association dedicated to and promoting best practices and advances in operations research, management science, and analytics to improve operational processes, decision-making, and outcomes. INFORMS says that its annual meeting “is a unique opportunity to connect and network with the more than 5,000 INFORMS members, students, prospective employers and employees, and academic and industry experts who compose the INFORMS community.” (September 2018)