MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge

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MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge is an applied mathematics modeling contest open to high school students across the United States (including US territories and DoDEA schools). It is sponsored by MathWorks (a developer of mathematical computing software) based in Boston and organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) based in Philadelphia.

The M3 Challenge awards $100,000 in scholarship prizes each year to the top teams. An additional incentive is the recognition that the winning teams receive. The winning paper from 2008 was published in the College Mathematics Journal. A representative from High Tech's team appeared on FOX Business Channel, 2010 winners were interviewed by Pimm Fox of Bloomberg radio, presented its findings at Lockheed Martin's Data Capture Center, met with U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Groves, and had their research published in SIAM's undergraduate publication, SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO). The 2011 and 2012 winners were interviewed by Pimm Fox of Bloomberg radio, and the 2014 winners were interviewed by both Pimm Fox and Carol Massar on Bloomberg radio.[citation needed]

MathWorks took over sponsorship of the competition, formerly known as the Moody's Mega Math (M³) Challenge, from Moody's Foundation in 2017.[1]

Registration process[edit]

Registration is open to high school juniors and seniors in eligible areas as well as to homeschooled and cyber schooled students. Teams consist of three to five students and one coach, who must be a teacher at their school. Each school can have a maximum of two teams. There is no cost to register or participate in the Challenge.


High schools in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories are eligible for the M3 Challenge.

Challenge weekend[edit]

The M3 Challenge is held annually on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in late February or March. Students choose which day they wish to work. Students also choose what time to work thanks to flexible work time. All teams will work in, or convert their local time to, Eastern Standard Time and download the problem any time over Challenge weekend to begin their consecutive fourteen hours of work. Once the problem is downloaded, the clock starts and it cannot be paused; students should download the problem with at least fourteen hours before the firm end of Challenge weekend to have use of the full fourteen hours allowed. They can work from any location they choose.

The problem[edit]

Professional Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians write the Challenge problem. Students have no knowledge of the problem before they download it on Challenge weekend. To solve the problem, they are allowed to use any inanimate and publicly available sources. They cannot have any outside help from anyone, including their teacher-coach. A helpful discussion forum leading up to the problem release, a monthly dialog, can be found here. Below are previous problems:

2006 Problem – Solving the Social Security Stalemate
2007 Problem – Beat the Street!
2008 Problem – Energy Independence Meets the Law of Unintended Consequences
2009 Problem – $787 Billion: Will the Stimulus Act Stimulate the U.S. Economy
2010 Problem – Making Sense of the 2010 Census
2011 Problem – Colorado River Water: Good to the Last Acre-Foot
2012 Problem – All Aboard: Can High Speed Rail Get Back on Track?
2013 Problem – Waste Not, Want Not: Putting Recyclables in Their Place
2014 Problem – Lunch Crunch: Can Nutritious Be Affordable and Delicious?
2015 Problem – Stem Sells: What is Higher Education Really Worth?
2016 Problem – Share and (Car) Share Alike – Modeling New Approaches to Mobility
2017 Problem – From Sea to Shining Sea: Looking Ahead with the National Park Service


Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians judge the contest in three phases. In triage, each paper is read through at least two times, and as many as five times, before being eliminated or passed on to the second round. The triage round of judging eliminates two-thirds or more of the submitted papers. In the second round of judging, papers are read up to an additional twelve times each, and the top papers emerge. The top six will go on to the presentation round of judging. Judging is blind until the presentation round, with teams known only by a unique team ID number. The presentation round is held in April where the teams present their papers to a panel of judges. Following the presentations, judges rank the teams and a formal award ceremony takes place.


All students who submit a viable solution paper receive certificates of participation, which are mailed to their teacher-coach. Coaches also receive certificates. Judges have the option of awarding up to $37,000 in additional semi-finalist and honorable mention team awards in amounts of $1,500 and $1,000 per team, respectively.

Semi-finalist prizes are awarded to teams whose papers were highly ranked and underwent in-depth, specific discussion by judges, but missed making it into the top six.

The top six teams' schools are awarded trophies. Scholarship prizes for the top six finalist teams are as follows:

  • M3 Challenge Champions (Summa Cum Laude Team Prize) $20,000
  • M3 Challenge Runner Up (Magna Cum Laude Team Prize) $15,000
  • M3 Challenge Third Place (Cum Laude Team Prize) $10,000
  • M3 Challenge Finalist (Meritorious Team Prize) $5,000 (3 teams)

Awards and recognition for the M3 Challenge[edit]

  • SIAM received an Award of Excellence in the first round of the 2009 Associations Advance America (AAA) Awards program for its role in organizing and administering Moody's Mega Math Challenge [2][3]
  • Moody's Corporation received a 2008 Excellence Award from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP)for the company's sophisticated giving program which encourages students to develop a passion for mathematics, economics and finance, and specifically citing Moody's Mega Math Challenge which aims to excite students about employing mathematics to solve real world problems.[4][5][6]
  • M3 Challenge received placement on the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ National Advisory List of Student Contests & Activities since 2010[7]


Here are some helpful resources:


  1. ^ Knapp, Alex (July 17, 2017). "Moody's Foundation Pulls Sponsorship Of High School Math Competition". Forbes. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "2015-16 NASSP List of Approved Contests, Programs, and Activities for Students" (PDF). National Association of Secondary School Principals. September 1, 2015 – August 31, 2016.