Math prodigy wins $1,000 awardProvidence, RI---Michael Anthony Viscardi from Josan Academy in San Diego (CA), who took calculus in eighth grade, is this year's first-place winner of the AMS Menger Awards for his project, "The solution of the Dirichlet Problem with Rational Boundary Data". Viscardi received $1000 for the project, awarded at the 2006 Intel-International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Indianapolis. Michael has done very well for himself this academic year, winning the top prize of a $100,000 scholarship in the Siemens-Westinghouse Competition in December, and $8000 in awards, including the Best of Category Award, at the 2006 ISEF. He will attend Harvard University.
Viscardi took calculus at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) while in eighth grade and according to his professor, Peter Ebenfelt, he was the best student in the class. "I don't think I have ever met anyone with such enthusiasm and raw talent for math," Ebenfelt said. "He is extremely pleasant and very enthusiastic about math. It is a real treat to discuss math with him. It's not very often one has a student who gets so excited about a theorem or lemma that his face practically glows."
The next year Viscardi took a course intended for junior and senior mathematics majors preparing for doctoral work in mathematics. UCSD faculty member Linda Rothschild taught the course. "His performance was truly remarkable, and I would have been very happy to recommend him then for a top Ph.D. program in mathematics." One semester later Michael was in a graduate course taught by UCSD faculty member Salah Baouendi. Baouendi said that his performance was on a par with the top graduate students in the course. "He is simply in a class by himself, truly amazing. I am convinced that he has an enormously bright future ahead of him."
Viscardi's project deals with the construction of a function when given only its values at the edge of its domain. His results have already been accepted for publication by the journal Computational Methods and Function Theory in a paper co-written with Ebenfelt.
When he is not doing mathematics, Viscardi loves to play music. If he does more of one and less of the other, he starts to feel "a little bit funny," he said. "I really need both in order to feel somewhat balanced. But math and music are in fact very similar---both are beautiful and elegant." He is an accomplished pianist and violinist, a composer, and concertmaster of the San Diego Youth Symphony. He is also the first violinist of the San Diego Youth Symphony String Quartet.
Other Menger Award winners at the 2006 ISEF: Second place: Brett Harrison (Half Hollow Hills High School West, Dix Hills, NY) and Daniel Litt (Orange High School, Pepper Pike, OH).
Third place: Anarghya Vardhana (Jesuit High School, Portland, OR), Gleb Pogudin (Novosibirsk, Russia), Nicholas Wage (Appleton East High School, Appleton, WI), and Sohan Mikkilineni (Detroit Country Day School, Beverly Hills, MI).
Honorable Mention: Meelap Shah (Stoney Creek High School, Rochester Hills, MI), Manuel Rivera-Morales (Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Bakhytzhan Baizhanov (West Kazakhstan).
The Karl Menger Memorial Prizes are funded by income from the Karl Menger Fund, which was established by the family of the late Karl Menger. This is the 17th year that the awards have been presented at the ISEF.
Karl Menger (1902-1985), a leading mathematician of the 20th century, was born in Vienna and received his PhD in mathematics from the University of Vienna. He was an active member in the Vienna Circle, which in the 1920s was at the center of cross-disciplinary intellectual developments. He emigrated to the United States in 1936 and joined the faculty of the Illinois Institute of Technology. A devoted teacher, he strove to convey to his students the beauty and power of mathematics. In 1989, his family donated funds to the AMS in his memory, and these funds have been used for the Menger Awards, a fitting tribute to Menger's commitment to inspiring young people in mathematics. More information about Karl Menger may be found at http://www.math.iit.edu/Menger/menger.html. The list of winners of Menger Awards, going back to 1990, may be found at http://www.ams.org/prizes/menger-award.html.
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