A MTFC Journey: Every Error is a Learning Opportunity

June 10, 2024


Our team, the Mathletes, heard about MTFC through our mentor and math teacher, Dr. Krassimir Penev, and decided to explore the topic of recidivism—the tendency of incarcerated individuals to reoffend—after watching a documentary about mass incarceration in the United States in our history class. Our names are Matthew Diomidous, Sofia Krivitsky, Sophia Li, and Aarush Santoshi, and we are seniors at the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey. Our project, titled “An Analysis of Costs and Solutions to High Recidivism Rates in Florida,” reached the semi-finalist stage in the 2023 Modeling the Future Challenge (MTFC). MTFC offered us invaluable insights into predictive analytics and its real-world applications. Through data analysis with the help of our mentors, we were able to craft forecasts that not only demonstrated our proficiency but also showcased our team’s collaborative spirit and problem-solving abilities.

Although we did not progress past the semi-finalist stage of the competition, we applied the judges’ feedback to revise our project, which went on to win our state’s junior science research symposium and eventually got published in the Journal of Student Research. Securing a publication for our work and getting the opportunity to present at the state level were significant milestones that validated our efforts and underscored the relevance of our research in the broader scientific community. Having our findings recognized further fueled our passion for exploring mathematical modeling, and allowed us to engage with fellow researchers, exchange ideas, and stay up to date with the latest developments in predictive modeling. This publication has had a significant impact on our academic journeys, and it’s all thanks to MTFC!

Looking ahead, our team is driven by a shared vision of advancing the boundaries of predictive analytics to tackle complex societal challenges. Matt will be attending Yale University, where he will study Statistics and Data Science with the eventual goal of becoming a machine learning engineer. Sofia will be attending the University of California, Los Angeles, where she will major in Biochemistry with the eventual goal of becoming a physician. Sophia will be attending Cornell University with an intended major of Human Biology, Health, & Society and a minor in Data Science and hopes to become a physician. Finally, Aarush will be attending Stanford University as a Symbolic Systems (an interdisciplinary major unifying the computational and social sciences) and Sociology double major, with aspirations to attend law school and address socio-legal issues with a data-informed perspective.

By harnessing the power of predictive analytics, we hope to make meaningful and ethical contributions towards building a more resilient future for all. Thanks to the MTFC team and Dr. Penev for your work in inspiring future generations of aspiring applied mathematicians.